A PROSPECTUS presented to the faculty of the Graduate School

of the University of new Orleans.

Ly Tong













This dissertation research advances a scientific theory of revolutionary political action and attempts to identify the conditional setting under which irreversible socio­economic and political change takes place in a geo-morphological setting like Southeast Asia. The stimulus theory of revolution I develop in this research is also a personal theory of revolution, and thoughtfully seeks to identify single-point failure potential within the rhetoric, and the first contact, of individuals encountering insurgency and sedition. No theory of revolution in Vietnam would be complete without taking note of the revolutionary activities and theories of Ho Chi Minh, the communist national who seized political power from French colonial Indochinese rule in 1945.



The very existence of Vietnam as a separate country, and the survival of the Vietnamese as a distinct people, must be regarded as a miracle, for which scores of historians have so far tried vainly to find a satisfactory explanation. Joseph Butler (The Smaller Dragon)

Ho Chi Minh is the personification of the communist chameleon that perpetually transformed to suit changing and conditional environmental needs within the politically seething geo-morphology of Southeast Asia (Molyneux 1993; Ly 1992). In his arduous but invariable rise to power, Nguyen Ai Quoc or Ho Chi Minh as he was later called, made and broke numerous alliances. These expedient alliances and expeditious betrayals included covert and candid covenants with the Chinese and Russians, as well as the Allied Forces of World War II, French colonial administration as well as British and American Secret Service (Fall 1985, 1984, 1965). Yet, Uncle Ho Chi Minh’s most utilitarian deception was to the nationalists of his country, and the moral ethic of his Confucian-educated nationalist father, including that treachery’s impact on the superstitious peasants of Vietnam (Nguyen 1990; Ly 1990). With regard to that deception, Ho Chi Minh lured his impressionable pupils to communism with colored versions of the proletarian revolution. Accordingly, a reliable theory of revolution in Vietnam must also consider the translational slippage that occurred from the Russian version, to the Chinese, to Vietnamese translations of Stalinist renderings of Marxist and Leninist doctrine, which Ho introduced to his young students.


The worst translation errors of Marxism occurred between the Russian and Chinese versions. But, the consequence of these translation errors may have indirectly contributed to the ignition point of internal violence within Vietnam by mistakenly justifying brigandism to easily influenced provocateurs (Hoang 1964; Honey 1964). Identifying manifest or distinct points of revolutionary transformation is forbidden by uncertainty, and is also perceptually clouded by our computational capacity and the super-positioned triggering of human cognition (Hameroff and Penrose 1996; Hebb 1954). Hence, for a valid stimulus theory of radical change to be quasi-scientifically accurate, it must address temporal progression and its implied causal consequences (Toffler 1984). Much of the success or failure of revolution is solely based on the stochastic but irreversible progression of sequential, sometimes related, and often overlapping temporal events. Timing is everything to the individual revolutionary. Consequently, a conscientious theory of revolution must fully consider the sometimes-cascading nature of contemporaneous random probabilities and stochastic avalanching that are present in natural phenomena of change (Hawking 1988; Prigogine and Stengers 1984).

Based on these theoretical constructs, the findings of this research indicate negative results. Revolutionary theory, plus translational effects, including language, geography and conditional dynamics, plus the confounding nature of irreversible temporal progression, do not predict revolutionary uncertainty with perfect accuracy.



Nonetheless, these realistic indicators confirm that coalescing political ideologies and insurgent conditional attributes often lead to mass-based perceptual confusion, and thus perhaps aggression; as well as render cognitive exemplars unintelligible to most people, in a necessary and sufficient way to indicate increasing potentiality of fomenting revolution.

The concluding concern of this study relates to the individual’s impact in revolution. One person can make a difference. Indeed, a disproportionate few individual revolutionaries very often carry out most revolutions, after conflagration’s sometimes spontaneous and often inopportune origination (Tilly 1995; Greene 1990; Lenin 1986; Gurr 1980, 1970; Moore 1978; Arendt 1977; Zedong 1970; Davies 1971; Marx 1971; Johnson 1966; Rummel 1966; Brinton 1965; Eckstein 1964; Pye 1964; Rosenau 1964; Einstein and Freud 1961; Guevara 1961; Hamilton, Madison and Jay 1961; Trotsky 1957). Hence, considerations concerning one’s individual relationship, with anarchistic or patriotic behavior and irreversible political activity, must be based on a personal reconciliation of our conceptualization of the principles of justice. The most ethically assured path toward belligerently acquired fair play is according to one’s singular accounting of the Platonic world of ideals, the physical or corporeal world of existence, and the world of one’s own consciousness. As a result, the most detrimental insurgent behavior that must be avoided is martyrdom.



Intense regional jealousies and rivalries disunite the country of Vietnam, now and in its historical past. It is split by contentious differences among southern, northern and central interests (Greene 1990; Fall 1985). Vietnam is in Asia, and its destiny and the role the country has played throughout history are largely determined by its geographical position on the Asia continent. The Asian continent is divided into two separate geo-cultural enclaves, by the Himalayan range and the Annamese Chain to the east. One has been subject to the influences of Chinese civilization and the other to Indian cultural influences (Nguyen 1990). The Himalayan range, while not preventing the peaceful spread of religious and philosophical concepts from the south to the north or the slow migration of a few tribes from the north to the south, has impeded any major military invasion from either region to the other. The fact that the Han, Mongol and Manchu cavalries did not cross this range, because they could not, has contributed to encouraging some political leaders in southern and south-east Asia to believe in the myth of a traditional relationship with China. On the other hand, the Chinese have always regarded Vietnam as their natural gateway for eventual expansion into Southeast Asia (Hoang 1964).

The map of China and Vietnam suggests the image of a huge funnel whose cone is the mainland of China, with Vietnam the long narrow spout. This analogy has historical relevance, for throughout history, the Chinese have repeatedly attempted to pour through the only land-route, Vietnam, into the rice growing plains of Southeast Asia (Hoang 1964). The Vietnamese have always managed to drive them out of their homeland. However, Vietnam has also suffered from a long history of foreign rule and alien occupation since ancient times (Nguyen 1990). The Vietnamese regard the Chinese as their natural enemies. The Chinese invaded Vietnam fifteen times in the last two thousand years and were in direct rule of the Vietnamese for a thousand years (Hoang 1964). Yet, there have always been Vietnamese kings, rebels or revolutionaries who, when faced with internal conflict or foreign invasion, have sought military help from the Chinese. When called on for assistance, the Chinese invariably responded with a large army that simply occupied the country, refusing to leave until driven out by a subsequent revolution (Nguyen 1990).

For over two thousand years, the Vietnamese have played a similar role to that of the Spartans of Thermopile, rendering protective services to its neighbors for centuries, in a way that has not been recognized by modern historians (Hoang 1964). The Vietnamese halted all the successive incursions of China’s expansionist dynasties, including the Han, the Mongol Khublai Khan’s inexorable hordes, the Ming and the Manchu. In doing so the Vietnamese have not only secured their own independence, but have also saved the whole of Southeast Asia from a gradual but relenting process of Han-hwa or Hanisation, and a total absorption of Chinese culture (Nguyen 1990; Hoang 1964).

Indeed, according to Chinese chronicles, the whole territory south of the Yangtze River was originally inhabited by the Hundred Yuёh tribes that had been entirely absorbed by the Hans after their conquest in the third century BC. Some ethnologists believe that a large portion of these people were probably of Indonesian descent (Hoang 1964). The Vietnamese, who originally belonged to this same ethnic lineage, believe that their ancestors formed one of these Hundred Yuёh tribes, and amazingly escaped the fate that overtook the rest. In this connection, the following anecdote is especially revealing.

During a banquet for Sun Yat-sen in Tokyo in 1911, his host, the Japanese statesmen Ki Tsuyoshi Inukai, asked him unexpectedly, seeking to trap him: “What do you think of the Vietnamese?” Caught off guard, Sun replied: “The Vietnamese are slaves by nature. They have been ruled by us and now they are ruled by the French. They can’t have a very brilliant future.” Inukai said: “I don’t agree with you on that point. Though not independent at present, they are the only one of the ‘Hundred Yuёh’ successfully to resist the process ofHan- hwa. Such people must sooner or later gain their political independence.” Sun, it is said, blushed but made no reply, realising (sic) that Inukai knew that he was a Cantonese, one of a people regarded as inferior by the Vietnamese because they became so completely Sinified that they lost all their Yuёh cultural identity, considering themselves wholly Chinese. The source of this anecdote is Le Du, a Vietnamese refugee in Tokyo who was a protégé of Inukai’s (Hoang 1964, 21).

Vietnam has struggled throughout its history to maintain its independence and cultural identity. However, the Vietnamese also absorbed much of the Chinese culture over their occupation, even though they never incorporated it strictly into their own cultural identity (Nguyen 1990). Although they resisted Chinese military aggression, the Vietnamese enthusiastically absorbed Chinese culture, to a point where they could fashion from it their own expansion southward at the expense of the Champa kingdom, which they gradually conquered and eradicated in 1697 (Hoang 1964). By 1780, the expansion of Vietnamese troops reached the southern-most tip of the peninsula and began to enter Cambodia when the Vietnamese were halted by the arrival of the French in 1858 (Nguyen 1990). Earlier, the Chinese had tried to force their way down into Vietnam. Now, the French colonial forces attempted to reverse the process by moving upward through the narrow peninsula of Vietnam into the mainland of China (Hoang 1964).

Although the Vietnamese were unable to stop the French advance, they resorted to continual revolts and guerrilla warfare. French progress was delayed by the need for repeated campaigns of pacification, until China awoke after the Revolution of 1911 (Nguyen 1990). Moreover, the Japanese looked at all of Southeast Asia as its own sphere of co-prosperity. In 1940, the Japanese army occupied Indochina. For an appreciable period of time, they even allowed the French administration to function in tact, at least until the March of 1945, when the Japanese brought French rule to an end (Hoang 1964). Hence, throughout its recent history, Vietnam continued to be torn by antagonistic and sometimes oppressive foreign occupations, intermittent but persistent wars of resistance to that occupation, and intense revolutionary infighting concerning the legitimate supreme authority of Vietnam (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). Eventually, Vietnam ousted its French colonial overlords with a modern communist revolution (Hoang 1964). Today, the Vietnamese Communist Party (VCP) governs Vietnam with authoritarian rule, in order to control the deeply divided and economically troubled country as a single nation. The monopoly of political power by the VCP is based on a local variant of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Ideology (Nguyen 1990). However, Vietnam has avoided current trends toward perestroika, glasnost and humanitarian reforms experienced elsewhere in the former communist world.

This dissertation will study the impact of Vietnam’s leftist revolution and its subsequent historical record, as empirical evidence, in order to compare Marxist-based political change with alternative rational choice variations to revolutionary political overthrow. Through this comparison, alternative radical organizations and theories concerning revolutionary potential will be assessed according to a standard of risk taking activity that is based on group cohesive tendencies. Indeed, revolution does not always foment when conditions are ideal. The hypothesis that I examine assumes that volatile conditions, as well as underlying preconditions for revolution, require accelerators, like military defeat, economic crisis, governmental violence, elite fragmentation, or reform and political change, to encourage or stimulate revolutionary discourse into political action. In addition, while reliable theory concerning revolution assumes that people are rational, it must also calculate their tendency to exhibit “demonstration effect” potentiality (Greene 1990, 147). The demonstration effect is a term from economic theory, which describes the tendency of consumers to alter their patterns of consumption, as they observe consumption-pattem changes of their neighbors, associates and acquaintances (Olson 1963; Ridker 1962). The expansion of individual insurgency into mass-based revolutionary behavior is the focus of this research.

There is evidence from social psychology that individual propensity for risk-taking is increased when people are involved with group participation and decision making activities (Cartwright 1971; Myers and Bishop 1970). Indeed, the first role of revolutionary organizations relates to the coalescence and functioning of the group and its recruiting practices for potential members. It is typical of modern revolutionary movements that mechanisms designed to meet these types of functional goals are furthest developed in communist organizations (Greene 1990; Fall 1984). Political revolutions, by definition, are innovative and uncompromising in their intention to remove the status quo replacing it with a preferred alternative. The concept of political revolution most commonly implies an insurrection engineered to reconstitute the state and bring about radical social change. Schematically, revolutions are political events that inevitably confront us directly with the consequences and responsibilities of new beginnings. However, the second function of revolutionary organizations may be described in terms of counter-government or dual sovereignty. The effectiveness of revolutionary organizations and their likelihood of success increase, as the movement is able to develop institutions with dual power, which actually function as agencies of government (Trotsky 1957). Revolutions challenge simple descriptions and create empirical problems of measurement and prediction. The burgeoning or inflationary moments that immediately follow the spark of revolutionary conflagration are both intense and complex phenomena inviting scholarly dissection.

A logical starting point is the nonreversible nature of revolutionary beginnings. With regard to this subject, St. Thomas Aquinas exhorts that the spiritual domination of rationality dictates that revolutionaries withstand minor tyrannies rather than rebel against them (2000). Conversely, Dante Alighieri asserts that the duality of spirit and reason ordains that reason should have its own global prescription for existence, because ethical jurisdiction exists before judges (2000). Individually, we are left with a conundrum between political action and political acceptance. Determining whether revolutionary political action is academically appropriate or philosophically justifiable often collides with intractable problems associated with its potential for success and durability of reform (Ly 1992,1990).

Although the consequences of revolution are grave, it is necessary to ascertain the nature and complexity of revolution through reason and acumen, as well as according to morality and ethics. Revolutionary change and its chaotic potentiality are a natural condition in the world of nature, biological organizations and human cultural expression (Prigogine and Stengers 1985; Toffler 1985). Whether revolutionary chaos propagates into deterministic malevolency is an indirect but real function of the communicative networks that exist between leaders and those that are governed (Plato 1945).

The organization of successful revolutionary movements must maintain effective command and communication links between leaders and followers. It must recruit and coordinate efforts of activist minorities drawn from various social strata from within the society. Certain political behavior stimulates revolutionary political cohesion and increased risk-taking behavior. In this research project, Vietnam will be considered as a case study in order to test a rational choice stimulus theory of revolution. This research searches to uncover the charismatic, powerful and influential aspects of fomenting revolution. Because revolution is multidimensional, the formulation of any causal model of dynamic revolutionary propagation is non-linear and quasi-deterministic. Hence, mathematical idealizations and the implications of complexity will be taken into account to help identify revolutionary tenets and assign theoretic probabilities to the characteristics of revolutionary political action. The research will propose a theory of revolution, evaluate it against the experiences of Vietnam, and use it to present a dialectic between proletarian-based Marxist historical determinism, and a competitive-based rational choice model. The intention of this dissertation is to separate and classify the components of political innovation and revolutionary political action, by differentiating factors that bring about or prevent demonstrable and lasting political change.

The problem with studying revolution is that the more general the concepts, the more difficult they are to give operational meaning. The variables that we identify become more difficult to operationalize and test, as we move toward a more complete understanding of the causes and characteristics of revolution. The more broad-range our conceptualizations, the greater our difficulty testing related hypothesis. Theoretical acceptability becomes a matter of self-evidence, intuitive judgement and aesthetic appeal, rather than a question of our empirical fit with reality. The dangers of describing our independent and dependent measures of revolution with the same phenomenon become conspicuous. They are especially obvious when we discuss revolutionary potential in terms of perceptions of status discrepancy and mobility opportunity.

How do we know, for example, that the French Bourgeoisie in 1789, or that Chinese and Vietnamese peasants and intellectuals in the twentieth century, revolted because their upward mobility in one or more of the subsystems of their society was blocked? Or that the lower-middle and working classes in England and the United States did not revolt in the twentieth century because they perceived sufficient opportunities for economic security, political representation, and upward mobility (Greene 1990, 184)?

To say that we know that the above are true, by the revolutionary or non­revolutionary behavior exhibited is not an explanation of the variations in revolutionary potential. Revolutionary potentiality measures must be evaluated according to indicators that are independent of the incidence of revolution or political violence. The problem we face is a problem of tautology.

Tautology is a logical problem characteristic of systems theory and equilibrium models of politics and society (Almond 1983; Easton 1966; Johnson 1966, 1964; Smelser 1963; Almond and Verba 1963). The conceptual weakness of this approach is more apparent when applied to the study of revolution. The assumption is that the various structures, processes and beliefs that make up a society connect in a logical or deterministic fashion, and that revolution is the result of a breakdown in the system. The resulting logic based on this first premise is self-evident. Each of the apparently valid assumptions we make concerning revolution is true by definition. Although the characteristics of the independent variable (i.e., the functional equilibrium of the society) are supposed to explain and predict variations in the dependent variable (revolution), the latter measures the former. However, according to the complexity theory of science, revolutionary change is intrinsic to natural as well as human organizational systems and phenomena associated with chaos-generating processes (Hawking 1988; Gleick 1987; Prigogine and Stengers 1984; Toffler 1984). Nevertheless, we must guard against tautological conclusions. The tendency toward tautology in practical applications of systems theory often fails on the basis of its own internal contradictions and conceptual inadequacy (Cohan 1975; Johnson 1966).

Although revolutionary change is a discrete event, whose horizon of perspective is obscured, like the esoteric boundaries of an Escher drawing or the counter-points of a Bach Fugue, its existence is also a series of superimposed histories, consequences and stimuli, which are confounding but relatively straightforward (Hofstadter 1980). If we are to develop a theory of revolution, we must clearly separate our indicators of revolutionary potential from the actual incidence of revolutionary political action. We must also remember to test our hypotheses in societies where revolutions have succeeded, where they have failed, and where they have not appeared at all. Although the findings and interpretations presented in this dissertation do not always meet these demanding criteria for theory development in the study of revolution, they do present a sobering comment on the problems of developing a theory of revolution.

By their very nature, tautological statements are non-falsifiable. They fail to meet a critical test of scientific formulation. Propositions achieve scientific standing, not by virtue of their confirmation through empirical testing, but only if we can conceive of findings that would discon firm the theory from which they are derived (Greene 1990). Nonetheless, new theories do not displace old theories. The old theories remain relevant as limiting cases within the newly conceived and more elegant theory (Einstein 1961). On the other hand, non-falsifiable propositions have the appearance of a scientific theory, but are conceptually organized, often by accident rather than design, to explain any variation in the data. Self-fulfilling approaches, not being susceptible to confirmation, are non-falsifiable and thus lack scientific distinction (Davies 1971).

The tendency toward non-falsifiable propositions is especially characteristic of attempts to explain revolution in terms of psychological dimensions of human behavior. Any reference to perception, cognition, values, feelings or motivations is an indication that human cognition and consciousness are critical to our understanding of human motivation (Hameroff and Penrose 1996). No theory of revolution is complete unless it takes into account human motivation, which is another indicator of an attempt at broad-range theory development. Consequently, theoretical range refers to the distance between our theoretical constructs and the data and exemplars essential to testing the theory or its derivative hypotheses and propositions (Greene 1990).

The study of the revolutionary state of mind, where it all begins, will lead to the enigmatic but fascinating study of the brain (Davies 1971). It has been argued that the psycho-political disturbances, which end in revolution, begin in the psyche and are thus tied to purposeful human activity (Schwartz 1971). In general, aggression is a consequence of frustration, and aggressive behavior of the usually recognized varieties is traceable to and pronounced by some form of frustration (Dollard 1974). These statements by themselves are also true by definition. Their tendency toward non-falsifiability is in their methodology of testing, which is usually in the form of inferential logic. A revolutionary act implies frustration, while political passivity in the face of all the more objective indicators of revolution suggests insufficient frustration. The problem with this logical conclusion is that by attempting to explain everything concerned with revolutionary behavior, we end by explaining nothing (Greene 1990).

In an attempt to solve the ambiguities associated with political sociology, we are drawn into the depths of political psychology. This may also be described as the change in perspective that requires translating inferences of individual psychological characteristics from observed social phenomena. Indeed, the revolutionary opposition of students, intellectuals and the middle classes of modernizing societies does not stem from any material insufficiency, but from psychological insecurity, personal alienation, guilt, and an overriding need for a secure sense of identity (Huntington 1968; Pye 1962). This explanation leads to a connection between modernization and political instability that is expressed in terms of an identity crisis.

Political instability in developing nations is the individual’s psychological insecurity transposed onto a macro-based scale of the general citizenry. But like systems theories, confirmation of propositions that are derived from psychological premises requires indicators that are independent of the aggressive behavior. It also requires clarification of the circumstances in which frustration induces aggression. Aggressive behavior is only one of many possible expressions of frustration. Other expressions of frustration include religious zeal, artistic creation, athletic competition, criminal activity, drag or alcoholic addiction, and psychological withdrawal or passivity, which are the opposite of aggression. Indeed, it has been shown how individuals may be moved to violence without any sentiments of frustration or “cognitive dissonance” (Milgram 1974, 165-68)

Even if the theoretical demands of psychologically based revolutionary theory were met successfully, there are no grounds for assuming that human consciousness and the motivations that derive from cognitive activity operate independently of corporeal reality or even the physical environment. There is no way of demonstrating that an apparent cause is the Final Cause (Greene 1990). If our predisposition for total explanation leads us into psychological reductionism, it will also lead us to an unending circularity of causal relationships (Taylor 1984). The central problem is the absence of any direct evidence concerning the relationship between perceptions, psychological processes, and political violence among individuals. There is no obvious way of discerning with certainty whether the connectivity between perceptions and political violence involves discrete psychological mechanisms.

In the following chapter descriptions, I attempt to minimize the distance between my hypotheses and the data concerning the exemplars of revolution. I will attempt to lessen the room for inferential logic to affect my intuitive perspective. In this way, I hope to reduce the room for intuition to influence my judgement and color my argument. This will not satisfy those who think that little can be accomplished outside the framework of broadly based theory. The substance and theoretical style of this research is an attempt to demonstrate that hypotheses of the middle range can substantially advance our understanding of complex political, cultural and social processes. It is enough that we identify patterns of association in our designated variables. Hence, descriptions and

illustrations of the broad classifications of revolutionary political stimuli are considered in the context of the nation of Vietnam and previewed in the numbered chapter details, below:











The stimuli of real world revolutions can be closely identified and perpetually analyzed. However, no revolutionary stimuli are completely decisive or fully deterministic. Rather, the concept of revolutionary stimulus involves changing demands on, or supports for, the political system. Because these flow from the citizens and other components in the environment of the political system, revolutionary stimuli function to change the sources of supports and demands. Stimuli build to a point where some particular spark of change ignites public sentiments into open revolutionary conflagration. The cumulative effect of small and inconsequential matters of dissidence and political disobedience may eventually mount to a point of self-conflagration (Lenin 1969). Despite his misgivings about unorganized revolutionary activity, typical of Marx, Lenin and all Marxist-Leninists, Leon Trotsky grudgingly admitted that the February Revolution in Russia was largely a spontaneous event (1957).

The intrinsic coalescing nature of human associations is highly susceptible to insignificant or “small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state” (Aristotle 2000, 113). Self-organizing systems and non-causal relationships are the most enigmatic and controversial aspects of applied statistics, mathematics, philosophy and religion (Greene 1999; Hawking and Penrose 1996). Nevertheless, although the coalescence of revolutionary forces is complex, probabilistic, constrained by uncertainty, and a priori confirmation, violent political activities are also corporeal enough to reliably build a quasi-accurate stimulus theory of revolution, which fits real world temporal circumstances, within a revolutionary setting of fomenting internal political warfare.

It is well established that the term revolution is derived from astronomy and was initially used by philosophers to describe cyclical processes in human events, but only entered common political discourse after the French Revolution of 1789 (Schrecker 1966; Kamenka 1966). In contemporary parlance, revolution has also come to mean an alteration in the personnel, structure, supporting myth, and functions of government by methods that are not sanctioned by the prevailing constitution (Greene 1990). Invariably, these methods almost always involve violence or the threat of violence against political elites, citizens or both (Arendt 1977). Whether this violence is ever justifiable is another issue altogether. The question of the consequences of revolution is answered according to our own set of values and our individual perspective concerning history. Our intuitive judgement and the prejudices it expresses effect our control of impartial analysis. Analysis quickly gives way to advocacy. Do the consequence of a revolution justify in general the sacrifices it involves? “It would be as well to ask in face of the difficulties and griefs of personal existence: Is it worth while to be born” (Trotsky 1957, 348)? Despite its justification or necessity, most agree that revolution means a relatively abrupt and significant change in the distribution of wealth and social status (Stone 1966; Neumann 1949; Hunter 1940).

By imposing a dogmatic definition of revolution onto the intrinsic complexity of political violence data, we both distort and oversimplify the subject matter of our research. Definitional categories ask questions that are answered in only one of two ways, and the data are thus treated as strict dichotomies. But revolution and most political phenomena require categories that can be answered in terms of probabilities or probabilistic relationships among exemplars. We are concerned with a society’s potential for revolution rather than trying to ascertain whether revolution in a particular society is inevitable or impossible. In general, there is a close relationship between the various forms of political violence that suggest the utility of measuring revolutionary potential rather than the actual incidence of revolutionary movements (Gurr 1970; Feldman 1964). Therefore, the definition of revolution that is employed in this research is not meant to imply a necessary progression from one form of political violence to another. This relaxation of a strictly conceived definition of revolution helps clarify the specific research problem, in terms of degree, instead of clouding assertions with the illusion of finality (Greene 1990).

It is also possible to restrict revolutionary descriptions according to the characteristics of modernization. However, in doing so we run the potential risk of excluding from truly revolutionary movements, those that are primarily religious in inspiration, others that lack coherent organizational structures and whose interests and demands are poorly articulated, and even those that are not expressed at all (Huntington 1968; Hobsbawm 1959). Sometimes the issues relating to modernization can be overstated as well. Hannah Arendt severely restricts her definition of revolution to only those relatively infrequent and modern movements that have extended the scope of human freedom (1977). This seems to be an overly restrictive definition. However, its underlying philosophical pretext, justice, may be pivotal to disentangling internally motivated and sometimes super-positioned cognitive triggering mechanisms (Penrose 1999, 1994, 1992). Yet, ideals cannot always explain away the debilitating consequences of reality, despite the elegance of mathematical idealizations (Hawking 1996; 1988). Indeed, the moral connotations of revolution have evolved over the preceding two hundred and fifty years (Tilly 1995; Moore 1966). Nevertheless, there is an understandable prejudice concerning modern revolutions that is echoed against the traumas generated by communism and fascism in the twentieth century (Greene 1990).

The confusion over the meaning of revolution is at least in part a consequence of confusing the ends of revolutionary movements with their particular means of achieving those ends. Failure to disentangle meansfrom ends is the biggest criticism of Machiavelli’s theoretical explanation of political power and control (Ebenstein and Ebenstein 2000). Revolutionaries seek a major alteration in the prevailing distribution of wealth, status and power. Their techniques may range from terrorism to peasant uprisings, guerrillawarfare, general strikes or a coup d’etat. It is important to note that while these measures may be executed sequentially, it is more likely that various techniques will overlap in the course of revolutionary mobilization (Greene 1990). The utility of our typology is enhanced if we focus more on the means of revolution, rather than its ends. It is also important to determine the relationship between specific techniques and the more objective circumstances in which the revolutionary movement operates (Andriole and Hopple 1984). Yet, the ends of individual behavior are pivotal to understanding the perspicacity and persistence of the meansand techniques used to cognitively and intellectually support irreversible revolutionary activity.

Revolution should be conceived of more as a process than an event. In the studies of specific revolutionary movements, it is often observed that the individual revolutionaries initiated their acts without revolutionary intent (Tilly 1995). Only in the context of the regime’s response to the first manifestations of resistance or violence, and only with the revolutionary movement’s mobilization of unexpected resources, are the revolutionary objective and movement itself given explicit meaning (Gusfield 1968; Lemarchand 1968). There is both logical and empirical support for the contention that revolution should be understood as part of a continuum of patterns of collective behavior that deviate from prevailing norms of behavior (Greene 1990). The same circumstances, associated with increasing rates of suicide, criminal violence, religious revivalism, labor unrest, and constitutional movements for political or social reform, are also related to the political violence that finds expression as revolutionary movements (Iglitzin 1972; Gurr 1970; Geschwender 1968; Leiden and Schmitt 1968; Smelser 1963; Parsons 1951). Consequently, no hypothesis or theory of revolution can claim credibility if it has been derived solely from the study of successful or historically noteworthy revolutionary movements (Tilly 1995).

Admitting the theoretical importance of unsuccessful revolutionary movements commits us to a conception of revolution in terms of process (Greene 1990). It is the irreversible nature of revolutionary activities and alliances that this dissertation hinges upon. The conditions, which produce a revolution, are in many ways no different in principle from those that produce a smaller or even unsuccessful protest movement (Geschwender 1968). These arguments are supported by the observation that the incidence of suicide and ordinary criminal behavior frequently declines during periods of revolutionary unrest (Brinton 1965). These assertions are also supported by statistical research on the relationships between the various forms of political violence. Utilizing a factor analysis of 113 countries over thirteen years, R. J. Rummel identifies a close relationship between the variables of two prevailing dimensions of conflict behavior (1966). The variables of the first dimension are coups, plots, internal warfare, mutiny, and large-scale terrorism. The second statistical vector of the analysis is predominately determined by riots, small-scale terrorism, quasi-private violence and turmoil (Rummel 1966).

These indicators provide further substantive evidence of the temporal continuum of unfolding frustration, aggression, political violence, and eventual revolutionary political action. Studies on Latin American social conflict reflect an even closer relationship between the various categories of turmoil, including strikes, demonstrations, and riots, as well as internal war, which includes terrorism, guerrilla warfare, civil war and revolutionary invasion (Bwy 1968; Midlarsky and Tanter 1967; Tanter and Midlarsky 1967). Other statistical studies of the relationships between types of political violence provide corroborating evidence (Feierabend and Feierabend 1966). Revolution is more than sequentially assembled causal determinates. It is the close relationship between cognitive processes and the irreversible temporal progression of overlapping contributing factors, which give coalescing insurrection and political violence their spontaneous and often cascading revolutionary spark. This complexity of cognition also appears to be the essential but enigmatic causal determinate of revolution. Stimulation of this revolutionary condition is thus the focus that is developed in this research to account for these complex and super-positioned processes.

The stimulus theory of revolution that is developed in this dissertation refers to circumstances that manifest in the real world. Theories must be susceptible to empirical testing, but theories cannot be tested directly (Cohen and Cohen 1983). Only hypotheses and propositions can be tested. Hence, the stimulus theory stands or falls according to the validity of the hypotheses subsumed from and implied by the theory. The stimulus theory is compelling, because it addresses all stimuli of revolution as factors of causality. Before revolutionary antecedents can be differentiated, in terms of success or failure, accomplishment or miscarriage, or even, prosperity or collapse, a sound revolutionary theory must identify evidentiary elements that fuse with the impact of Lenin’s proverbial spark of revolution.

Some expressions of revolutionary coalescence and propagation are functionally self-evident (Greene 1990). For instance, the ongoing erosion of supports and obedience to the laws of the state is like the constant occurrence of small expenses that, over time, consumes a fortune. Conversely, reform is a delicate balance of chaos and equilibrium. The political regime can decisively act through policies and programs generating outputs intended to equilibrate the system. In these ways the state adapts and evolves within the context of its contextual political environment. Here it is prudent to keep measurement issues within the theory separate from problems associated with definitions. Even in autocratic and dictatorial regimes, the degree to which governments attempt to remain dedicated to the citizens helps resolve whether the spark of revolution will extinguish or explode. It is evident that the differences between chaos and equilibrium are consequential to the context of stimulating revolution within the complex setting of human political affairs.

The stimulus theory of revolution is based on the intrinsic properties related to eliciting the response of revolution. It assumes that both positive and negative stimuli will be measurable, because political stimuli coalesce according to stochastic underlying behavioral conditions and circumstances related to governmental stability and regime durability (Browne, Frendreis and Gleiber 1986). Although this research does not empirically test or analyze quantitative data, except in terms of anecdotal evidence from case studies, the stimulus perspective partially mirrors the theoretical fundamentals associated with factor analysis, which groups essential causal derivatives responsible for the covariation among observed variables (Kim and Mueller 1987a, 1987b). Therefore, the stimulus theory is more dependable than a catalyst-based theory for instance, because it is based on measurements associated with connected behavioral attributes, rather than abstruse catalysts which by definition affect, but are not effected, by the change their catalysis initiates. These revolutionary archetypes are subsumed in the ensuing explanation concerning the complexities and conditional entanglement associated with chaos and far-from-equilibrial systems.

Theories of chaos include inexplicable probabilities that allow non-causal stimulation of systems in far-from-equilibrium conditions .These unusual features are fundamentally esoteric. Thus chaos explanations of the nature of revolutionary attraction, or cascading revolutionary propagation, require accurate theoretical definitions and philosophical explanations to understand. All chaotic sequences are expressed within inherently defined boundary conditions, but no substantive elements of the sequence are ever-repeated (Kostelich and Armbruster 1996). A truly chaotic process is aperiodic (Gleick 1987). It is this aperiodic nature of chaos that translates into every system’s sensitive dependence on the initial conditions of its origin, as well as any subsequent external perturbations which might redirect the system’s long-term behavior (Hawking 1988; Prigogine and Stengers 1984). The path of chaos is wholly predictable and determinable. However, statistical predictions in chaotic systems are reliable, as long as the structure of chaos is precisely articulated and the parameter values of the system are known (Greene 1999). The parameters and structure of revolution are often obscure. Initial conditions must be perfectly specified, and all external perturbations must be exactly identified, both in terms of magnitude and direction, if the predictions are expected to be of value (Wildgen 1992; Huckfeldt 1990). Evolution toward an attractor state of factorial coalescence differs from all other changes, especially changes determined by inherent boundary conditions (Prigogine and Stengers 1984, 115-22). The political stimuli that bring about the chaos of insuưection are pivotal to understanding the forces, which actually ignite the disorder indigenous to the internal conflict, commonly referred to as revolutionary conflagration.

From the explanations above, we can assert that the stimulus theory is a generalization based on particulars. Therefore, the stimulus theory of revolution will attempt to explain and predict. By comparisons, models that are postulated within the theory may predict, but the predictions may be right for the wrong reasons. The stimulus theory is a summary of facts that imparts logical coherence to the facts surrounding the phenomenon of revolution. Formally, the stimulus theory of revolution is a generalization from which a series of logically related and testable hypotheses about revolutionary political behavior can be deduced. In general, innovative theory develops when traditional rationales underpinning our conceptualizations concerning reality stand in danger of being discredited and need either to be revised or discarded (Eagleton 1990). Most objections to positivist theory are based upon human psychological emotions and desires that do not fit models of calculating rationality (Quattrone and Tversky 1988). Consequently, the stimulus theory of revolution is not opposite to the internal chaos of revolutionary fact; the theory makes the facts meaningful.

The next step is to translate the facts into variables, and relate two or more variables to each other in terms of their apparent causal relationships. Even if the research disconfirms a proposition or hypothesis, we have learned something important, in that the predicted relationship of the variables does not exist. Reasoning in terms of propositions and hypotheses is an advantageous way of focusing the conceptual apparatus of our theoretical constructs. It is also a convenient way of compacting insurmountable data and seemingly irresolvable qualifying factors into patterns and probabilities. This leads to the conceptual difference between hypotheses and propositions within the stimulus theory of revolution.

Hypotheses have variables that vary by degrees. In literal terms, they are measured in relation to measures of more-or-less. Propositions tend to be mutually exclusive or zero-sum statements that liken to issues of either-or. Almost any noncooperative contest, including those which are noncooperative bargaining games, will have infinitely many diverse equilibrium points (Harsanyi 1977a; Browne, Frendreis and Gleiber 1986). Therefore, by making the proposition that the outcome of a revolutionary contest will produce a perfect equilibrium or will manifest sequential equilibria says little more than anything can happen in revolutionary contests. The world of noncooperative game theory is “plagued by an indeterminacy that, if not total, is pervasive” (Johnson 1993, 79). The question we now confront asks about the possibility of tying several or any of these propositions and hypotheses concerning the stimuli of revolution together in order to generate a more encompassing theory real revolution.

Rationality is the positivist’s tool for classifying and identifying states of equilibria. Instrumental rationality means political actors have the ability to correctly interpret the world around them. It also means, they will receive information feedback, which will enable them to revise and correct any initial miscalculations they may have made. Herbert Simon characterizes a totally rational politician with unlimited computational powers as possessing an entirely informed perception of the real world (1986). The totally rational legislator perceives reality as it actually is. Researchers could predict the choices of this rational decision-maker entirely from an understanding of the real world. Prediction of rational political behavior would be possible without knowledge of the political actor’s perceptions or modes of calculation. However, these powers of prediction would only be possible if the political actor’s utility function or bundle of preferences could be established and measured (Simon 1986).

In the following chapters, the nature and arrangement of the types and classes of revolutionary stimuli will be considered. For the purpose of scholarly investigation, revolutionary stimuli can be divided into endogenous and exogenous groups, as well as internally motivated and externally triggered varieties. Seemingly tranquil governmental forces and inconsequential civic matters that mount to help spawn revolutionary political action will also be taken into account. Indeed, no political stimuli are expected to be decisive or fully deterministic, but their logical classification provides a rational approach to examine the process of revolution more closely. Endogenous revolutionary stimuli are extraneous and unchangeable measures taken in rebellion. These are stimuli that are directly observable, tangible and concrete. Conversely, exogenous stimuli are illusory and often misleading, but essential and substantial components of revolution. These are stimuli that represent the introspective impulses and personal motivations of the larger body of citizens. Discriminating endogenous from exogenous stimuli is the first step in the revolutionary stimulus classification procedure.

What follows is a representation of my research. Theoretical constructs are presented here, in order to suggest the nature of my project and direction of my methodology. The case of Vietnam most closely reflects the essential nature of my hypothesis concerning revolution. The original catalyst analogy was changed because the definition of a catalyst implies something that initiates a reaction, but does not get involved in that reaction or is not changed by the reaction. This is not exactly what I had in mind, because freedom fighters and genuine revolutionaries are inherently involved and are almost always directly effected by reactions caused by their revolutionary political actions.

I have broadened my theoretical construct, with a slight modification from its original conceptualization and its catalyst analogy to a stimulus-response-oriented conceptualization that is based on cognitive processes and the phenomenon of consciousness. In effect, I am simultaneously narrowing the scope of my case study to one case only, and broadening my theory to present analytic comparison between catalysts of revolution and stimuli of revolution. However, even if we are able to differentiate among the causal propensities of revolutionary political action, the line of demarcation will be abstract and inexact. Other countries with revolutionary histories will be used for cross-comparisons and anecdotal reflection throughout. By comparing revolutionary political theories with the political and humanitarian-related consequences those theories initiate or discourage, this dissertation will differentiate among hypotheses concerning revolution and the consequences of revolutionary political action.










To understand how Vietnam became a breeding ground for feelings of revolutionary political action to establish its own home rule it is important to understand a little about its recent past. Vietnam has been subjugated by many nations and socio-religious dogmas throughout its history. At the same time as the rulers of Vietnam were turning towards Confucian dogmatism, Christianity was being introduced into the country by Roman Catholic missionaries. It was tolerated at the beginning, but soon became the object of persecutions. However, under the coexisting rulers of Vietnam, the interdiction of Christian activities was only applied with intermittence (Nguyen 1990). With the Nguyen dynasty, the interdiction became more severe. The source of the conflict was the worship of ancestors. Following an ordinance issued in 1742, by Pope Benoit XIV, the Vietnamese Catholics refused to worship deceased ancestors (Phan 1961). The Vietnamese rulers of the period saw in this attitude a serious violation of human fundamental duties. As zealous Confucians, they could not tolerate the transgression.

Emperor Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyen dynasty, tried to solve the problem amicably. He affirmed to his friend, the Bishop of Adran, that the worship of ancestors had a moral and not religious significance. Thus, he asked the prelate to solicit the repeal of the 1742 ordinance in order to eliminate a cause of conflict between Catholics and the other subjects of his empire. The Vatican refusal closed the door to any compromise (Phan 1961). Eventually, the persecution of Catholics served as a pretext for France to conquer Vietnam. This subterfuge came from the collision between two intransigent dogmatic groups, the zealous Confucians ruling Vietnam and the missionaries, imbued with the idea of their religions’ superiority, and determined to impose their social behavior on their followers (Nguyen 1990).

France’s first direct intervention in the affairs of Vietnam was based on a treaty signed between the French and a dethroned prince in 1787, which promised Franco-military help in return for territorial concessions (Hoang 1964). The French, because of the Revolution that occurred in France just two years later in 1789 did not honor this treaty. From that time until 1847, no French government was willing to undertake the conquest of the country. The operation was thought to be too hazardous. French interest in Vietnam was confined to French military activists and Catholic missionaries whose ambition was to extend Western cultural and economic influence, as well as Christendom, into the small nation by force of arms if necessary (Nguyen 1990).

The French conquest of Vietnam was carried out with much hesitancy during various periods of political and economic stability in France. The French campaign into Vietnam was subject to interruption during periods of internal revolution and external warfare by the troubled European nation. It was only after 1880 that France adopted a systematic colonial policy and became determined to totally occupy Vietnam. This change of foreign policy was spurred by national prestige and France’s intense rivalries with other European powers (Nguyen 1990). The ultimate objective of the French was not simply the conquest of Vietnam. This merely served to strengthen their position in the Far East so that France could be assured of an eventual share of an even greater prey, the country of China. They began with the conquest and occupation of Cochin China in 1859, and proceeded with the idea of reaching the Chinese mainland by way of the Mekong River (Hoang 1964). The Mekong River, which has its source in Tibet and flows through the rich province of Yunan, was totally unsuitable for navigation over most of its course. Hence, in 1882, the French occupied Tongking in a secondary effort to reach China by way of the Red River. By the end of their campaign in Southeast Asia in 1884, the French had also conquered Annam, linking Cochin China and Tongking, as well as Cambodia and Laos, which they claimed as Vietnamese possessions (Nguyen 1990).

The Chinese had tried to force their way down into Vietnam throughout much of its history. The French colonial forces attempted to reverse the process. However, the Vietnamese resorted to continual revolts and guerrilla warfare, even though they were unable to stop the unrelenting French advance. As a result French progress was delayed by the need for repeated campaigns of pacification that retarded French advances until the counterinsurgent influences of China and Japan forever changed the political landscape of Southeast Asia. Prior to 1884, Vietnam enjoyed diplomatic relations with most of the global powers of the time, including China, Japan, Britain, France and the United States (Hoang 1964). However, after the French conquest, the name Vietnam was practically forgotten by the rest of the world.

Vietnamese resistance to western colonialism erupted from the outset of French penetration into Indochina, with major uprisings occurring in 1885, 1896, and 1906, from within the northern regions of the country (Greene 1990). In an attempt to partition one geographic and cultural base from another, France deliberately divided the Vietnamese territory into three separate regions. To each they gave a compulsory name and a completely different administrative status. These new regions were arbitrarily designated as follows: First was Annam, which means pacified south, but was given to the central region with an indirect protectorate form of government. The emperor, the royal court and the hierarchy of mandarins were allowed to continue in this region, but complete over-all authority was vested in a French resident supervisor (Hoang 1964). The second was Tongking, or Tonkin in French, which means the eastern capitaland is the former name of Hanoi and Saigon City, an area in the north that was ruled under a direct protectorate. Local mandarins were recruited by and responsible to a French resident supervisor who assumed the status and function of a viceroy or representative of the Vietnamese emperor. This subordination to the emperor served merely as a pretext to provide the resident supervisor with full authority under his administration (Nguyen 1990). The third was Cochin China, which is a corruption of “Ke Chiem,” the capital in Quang Nam province of the Nguyen dynasty in the seventeenth century, and designated the area to the south that became a French possession. As a French possession, the south of Vietnam was completely cut-off from the so-called authority of the Vietnamese emperors.

The partitioning of Vietnam meant that the Vietnamese people acquired differing perceptions of nationality and lived under different administrations depending on which part of the country they lived. Hue people of the south were French subjects and enjoyed a relatively more liberal regime than their countrymen to the north and in the central regions of Vietnam. The difference was greatest in legal jurisdiction. The inhabitants of Cochin China lived under a French system of jurisdiction, while their compatriots in Tongking and Annam were permanently placed under the Annamite System, one that was based on a medieval judicial code of extreme severity (Hoang 1964). This Imperial Code and the mandarinic hierarchy were employed as instruments of repression in such a way that direct responsibility did not fall on the Colonial administration. The royal court of Hue and the mandarins served as a screen behind which the French ruled with complete authority.

An important factor, usually unnoticed by outside observers, was the moral indignation generated in ordinary decent Vietnamese people by the corrupt practices sanctioned by the colonial regime. This alone was sufficient to stimulate very large numbers of Vietnamese to support revolutionary solutions to their dilemma. The citizens of Vietnam would have regarded any rebels, no matter what ideology they supported, as the courageous protagonists of right and justice. The mandarins serving the colonial administration, whose comfortable lives were made more conspicuous by the general poverty suưoundingthem, personified for the people not only treachery to the national cause, but corruption and depravity as well (Nguyen 1990; Hoang 1964). Revolutions may spring from many causes, but the Vietnamese Revolution was motivated primarily by the people of Vietnam’s eagerness to get rid of mandarinic despotism and disrespect. For the people of Vietnam, the revolution was a conflict between virtue and vice. The ideological dispute that later developed was regarded as a complicating, but subsidiary, factor.

The Vietnamese resistance movement against French colonial improprieties was eventually organized into the Vietminh, a shortened name for the League for the Independence of Vietnam. Devoted nationalists of non-communist ideological orientation joined the Vietminh even though they were strictly against the communists and their ulterior intentions (Honey 1964). As such, the Vietminh was the chief political and military organization with any potential of success against the hated French and their counterfeit administrative organization. The Vietminh were founded by Ho Chi Minh and relentlessly fought the French for independence between 1946 and 1954. During World War II, the Allies accepted this coalition of nationalist groups under Ho Chi Minh’s communist-based control, because the Vietminh were the only significant organized resistance in Vietnam during its Japanese occupation (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). In time, the Vietminh garnered a distinct advantage in the north in comparison to the overextended and bureaucratically crippled colonial French administrators.

As the power struggle shifted in favor of the Leninist-trained Vietminh leaders, the French reacted with newfound determinism. However, French counterinsurgency in North Vietnam failed miserably. Almost everything they did helped contribute to their demise. Following the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, a communist government was established in North Vietnam, and the Vietminh was promptly dissolved (Fall 1985). But the members of the Vietminh became important political figures in the new regime. Ho Chi Minh’s colleague, Vo Nguyen Giap, organized the victory at Dien Bien Phu, and later set the strategy for the ensuing successful struggle against the South Vietnamese government and the United States. After its revolutionary separation from the French, the Vietnamese Communist government maintained a one party monopoly. Since the 1930s, Vietnam’s communist revolutionaries have been supported by ongoing, and often strongly competing, alliances with Russia and China (Nguyen 1990).














In the beginning, it was patriotism and not communism which induced me to believe in Lenin and the Third International. But little by little, progressing step by step in the course of the struggle, and combining theoretical studies of Marxism-Leninism with practical activities, I came to realise (sic) that socialism and communism alone are capable of emancipating workers and downtrodden people all over the world.

There was in Vietnam, as well as in China, the legend of the magic bag: anyone faced with a great problem would simply open the bag to find a ready solution. For the Vietnamese Revolution and people, Marxism-Leninism is not a magic bag, or a compass, but a real sun which lights the road to final victory, to socialism and communism (Ho Chi Minh, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, published 1960).

It may be said that despite their many bad effects throughout history, imperialist conquests have often brought positive results as well less than positive consequences. In history, imperialism brought together small and heterogeneous states and tribes to form larger and more viable groupings. In some instances imperialism brought peoples together to form entirely new nations. For example, Soviet Russia was born out of the Czars’ empire. Also, after conquering Tibet and laying claim to Formosa, Mao Zedong considered himself the rightful heir of previous imperialist dynasties in China. Indeed, certain members of the United Nations owe their very existence as unified states to Western colonial powers.

Unfortunately, French Indochina was not so lucky. As soon as the French authority collapsed, the members of the union were quickly separated, including Annam, Tongking, Cochin China, Cambodia and Laos (Hoang 1964). In many respects, this regrettable situation arose because the French colonial administration intentionally kept its five dependencies apart before their collapse (Nguyen 1990). The French colonial administration, while keeping a union for the sake of administrative and military convenience, kept its five colonial dependencies in Indochina politically apart. They also fostered a feeling of hatred among the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians and even between the Vietnamese from the north and south of the same nation. It was in their immediate interest as rulers to follow the principle of divide and conquer to rule. However, as protectors and legitimate rulers, they were also under a certain obligation to defend under-populated Cambodia and Laos against the peaceful but relentless penetration by the Vietnamese (Nguyen 1990). Accordingly, emigration from Tongking and Annam into Laos and Cambodia or even Cochin China was severely restricted by the French. Nevertheless, the population of Southeast Asia was already predisposed to flying apart into several units, and the Vietnamese easily equaled the French in their imperialistic intentions (Hoang 1964).

The tendency to keep Indochina from integrating culturally and politically is partially responsible for the break-up of the large confederation, which was perhaps the proudest achievement of French colonialism in the Far East. The establishment of the communist regime in first the north and then throughout Vietnam was an additional complicating dynamism in the political struggle of Southeast Asia. Indeed, the presence of the communists in the peninsula of the French Indochinese colonial empire made it difficult for any of its five colonial dependencies to survive as free and independent countries. This is also why Southeast Asia remains a permanently smoldering fire and is, with some justification, referred to as the Achilles’ heel of the Free World (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964).

The Vietnamese Revolution might be said to have begun with nationalism and ended with communism. Before the communists came to preeminence, two successive generations of Vietnamese patriots for national independence but had achieved no success, other than to keep revolutionary spirits alive. Their failures prepared the way for the communists who finally emerged as liberators of the country after a comparatively short period (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). The movement gained momentum and was focused by clandestine activities. By comparison with the nationalists, they achieved results with smaller losses of their rank-and-file followers. Communism achieved its relatively easy success for several different reasons. Among these were the skillful leadership provided by the Comintern, the sound organizational core of the party, and the courage and determination of its members (Hoang 1964). The communist revolutionary movement proved itself capable. It did so with its progressive ideology of attracting intellectual idealists, while at the same time mobilizing the underprivileged masses, by promising a short cut to better living standards (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). All these factors contributed to the growing strength of the Communist Party and to the consequent weakening of the nationalist movement (Honey 1964).

Despite its capable strategies, the communists’ final success was due in large measure to the suppleness of its tactics. Their dynamic logistical activities enabled the communists to appear communist, or nationalist, as changing circumstances demanded. This chameleon behavior allowed them to move secretly forward, while keeping well concealed the unchanging strategic objective (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). The Vietnamese communist movement began in 1925, when Ho Chi Minh formed the Association of Revolutionary Youth, clandestinely recruiting his followers from a small group of Vietnamese patriots sent to China by the nationalist organization (Hoang 1964). Indeed, he was still posing as a nationalist leader when, twenty years later, he seized power in Hanoi under the banner of the Vietminh, or the League for Vietnamese Independence (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964).

Whenever the Vietnamese communists resorted to the orthodox class struggle, they achieved a slight strengthening of their influence over the masses. However, they also failed to achieve any major victories. Their victories always came when they acted as nationalists, aiming solely at the liquidation of French colonial rule (Nguyen 1990; Hoang 1964). In a country like Vietnam, which is quite without native capitalists, class conflict clearly contributed little to the cause of communism. Moreover, the insignificant quasi-proletariat that did exist played no role, of any importance in the emergence of communism in Southeast Asia (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). The factors, which under the circumstance contributed most to the communist cause were those, which under more normal circumstances, might have sustained a purely nationalist revolution (Honey 1964).

French domination created a feeling of racial inequality, and hence created solidarity within the race. The despotic rule of the feudal-minded hierarchy of the mandarins generated widespread dissatisfaction and extinguished all hope of modernization and democratization. The communists succeeded because the nationalist movement proved unable to fulfill its historical mission. Admittedly, the latter’s failure was due in part to its inability to resist colonialist repression. However, the communists encroached on the nationalists’ preserves and progressively eliminated them by competition, by trickery, and by military force (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). The kind of leader the communist movement needed for its success was not a scholarly theoretician, but a professional agitator who would expertly play the nationalist game. In 1925, the Comintern chose Ho Chi Minh for this difficult role. He played the role perfectly, for Ho possessed all the qualities essential to a “communist-cum-nationalist leader” (Hoang 1964, 46).

In August 1945, the name Ho Chi Minh became known for the first time to the Vietnamese public. This introduction occurred when the newspapers published the composition of the newly formed provisional government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam nine days after the Vietminh revolution (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). Although the Vietminh was originally nationalist in spirit, and designed to oust Japanese fascism and French colonial stagnation, its underlying motivation and hidden agenda was Ho Chi Minh’s rise to power. Nguyen Ai Quoc changed his name to Ho Chi Minh to start the Vietminh. No one had heard of the new president’s name, Ho Chi Minh, and they puzzled at its somewhat unusual and literary nature. Educated Vietnamese concluded that it must be a pseudonym, for it means “Ho who-aspires-to-enlightenment” and all concluded it was not a genuine name (Hoang 1964, 47). There was lively speculation about the new President’s identity, especially among the members of the new administration. The answer was not long delayed, for only a few days later a rumor began to circulate that Ho Chi Minh was the pseudonym adopted by Nguyen Ai Quoc, the mysterious but notorious architect of the Vietnamese Communist Party (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964).

While the French were busy examining Ho photographs and comparing them to their faded archive pictures of Nguyen Ai Quoc, the Vietnamese were already unanimous in accepting that Ho was Nguyen. They could not believe that any country could produce, in the same epoch, two men of Ho’s genius (Hoang 1964; Honey 1964). He spoke a dozen foreign languages with great fluency and was well traveled, having a score of different names. He spent half his time in prison and the rest in clandestine activity. He outshone his rivals both in revolutionary tactics and political experience. Ho Chi Minh studied Chinese classics as a child, and then continued his education, by interacting with friends and through books, while wandering through Europe and America where he worked. Later, he received a careful and methodical education from the Comintern. Consequently, he had ample opportunity to learn Oriental, Western and Marxist traditions. Ho Chi Minh was equally at home with a Vietnamese peasant, a Chinese warlord, an Indian philosopher or a Western journalist (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964).

Ho Chi Minh lived the life of an ascetic and holy man, and always reflected the image of a dedicated Vietnamese compatriot possessed with the fire of revolutionary assiduousness. He never indulged in any comfort that was not strictly necessary. Ho’s only indulgence was American cigarettes that he smoked incessantly. For years he dressed as a peasant, wearing a Canadian windbreaker, provided as surplus American stock to Vietnam in 1946, and a pair of sandals made from a discarded tire (Hoang 1946). His whole appearance was an assurance that he had devoted his life to the service of the people. Ho Chi Minh renounced his family early in life, because of his father’s strong nationalist intentions. Ho was never married, although he allegedly took a wife in Hong Kong and sired a daughter, but lost contact with them during his revolutionary quest. Ho Chi Minh stood above all suspicion of nepotism and corruption, and thus appeared to be above shame and beyond the reach of calumny (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). An envoy named Paul Mus, who was sent by the French in 1947 to meet Ho Chi Minh and negotiate a truce later reported that “He is an intransigent and incorruptible revolutionary in the manner of Saint-Jus” (Mus 1952, 88).

This comparison is high praise for any statesmen. Incorruptibility is exceptional among politicians and particularly in underdeveloped countries. Ho Chi Minh disguised the hidden agendum of his Comintern-based intentions with Machiavellian shrewdness. Hence, by his perceived moral standing alone, Ho Chi Minh acquired the respect and confidence of the whole Vietnamese nation (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). His reputation for honesty and sincerity contributed greatly to his success. In Vietnam, as in many underdeveloped countries, the masses put their trust in the personal character and the behavior of a leader more than the political party he or she represents. The temptations of governmental perversion seem greatest when leaders attempt to unify the focus of their authority to singularity and excess (Aristotle 2000). In retrospect, it appears obvious that none of Ho Chi Minh’s rivals ever had any serious chance of success.

Nguyen Hai Than, disciple and successor of the famous nationalist, Phan Boi Chau, was beyond doubt a genuine patriot. However, during his forty years in China he fell victim to the addiction of opium smoking. The former Emperor Bao Dai, whom the French reinstated as head of state in 1949, had a twenty-year reputation of being a playboy and of leading an immoral life. Even, Ngo Dinh Diem, brought to power byAmerican pressure in 1954, the ruler of South Vietnam differed from Ho Chi Minh in every way. Whereas Ho Chi Minh renounced his family, Diem surrounded his administration with family members. Brothers, sisters, nephews and other relatives, close and distant, were bestowed with key positions in his government and in the army (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). While Ho would converse with workers in a friendly and consanguine manner, Diem would sit on a gilded chair as his feet were ceremonially washed by tribal chiefs, following a centuries-old practice symbolizing the acknowledgement of a monarch’s incumbency and suzerainty (Hoang 1964).

Ho Chi Minh was born in the village of Kim-Lien in the Nam-Dan district of Nghe-An province on May 19, 1890 (Fall 1985). Like every Vietnamese of his time, Ho was given two names: a first name at birth and a second literary name when he went to school. His first and sacred name was Nguyen Sinh Cung. Cung is a modification required by superstitious custom and means respectful. His second name, intended for ordinary use, was Nguyen Tat Thanh or Nguyen-who-will-inevitably-succeed (Hoang 1964). However, in the course of his long life, he was known by various other names, including Nguyen Ai Quoc, Ho Chi Minh, Ly Thuy, and Vuong Son Nhi, as well as others, all invented to suit his purposes at different periods of his life (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). Of all revolutionary influences in Vietnam’s modern revolutionary history, Ho Chi Minh stands out by contrast. It is interesting to note that his Moscow education in revolutionary vanguard politics took place during the early years of Stalinist control. In is not inconceivable that Stalin’s uncompromising political and ideological persuasive tactics may have had considerable impact on the impressionable young revolutionary zealot.

Ho Chi Minh was descended from a long line of scholars who were, for the most part junior mandarins and small landlord, as were all Vietnamese intellectuals (Nguyen 1990). His grandfather received the degree of Cu-nhan or Bachelor of Arts and was appointed district governor, but later was dismissed for insubordination. His father, Nguyen Sinh Huy, later known as Nguyen Sinh Sac, obtained the Pho Bang, or Junior Doctor (a second best examinee, second roster), but refused to accept a mandarinal post, and later ended in jail after joining the Students’ Movement of 1907 (Hoang 1964). After release from Poulo Condore prison in 1910, Ho’s father was placed under house arrest in Saigon, where he earned a meager living as a practitioner in Chinese medicine. It is said that he never charged for his services and only accepted the customary lodging and meals from the families of his patients.

Ho Chi Minh was the youngest child of the family. In contrast to his older siblings, he was permitted to abandon his Confucian studies to become a pupil in a Franco-Annamite school. This separation from Confucian dogmatism provided Ho with the opportunity to learn of Western Cultural influences, and become exposed to the influences of political liberalism and political economy. He graduated with a lesser degree in 1907 and was appointed as a teacher in an elementary school. However, after the nationalist unrest of 1907-08, he became enkindled with the firebrand of patriotism and went south to join his father in Saigon as soon as he got news of his release (Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985; Hoang 1964). Eventually, his father arranged for his son to go to Paris to study with the famous nationalist, Phan Chu Trinh, veteran of the Private School Movement. But Ho quickly parted company with Phan because he would not endorse violence as a means to successful revolution. The incident caused an irreparable rift between Ho and his father that never healed.

Early in his revolutionary career, Ho Chi Minh visited Moscow to learn the Leninist rubric of Marxism and its clandestine and guerilla resistance techniques. Imbued with Lenin’s vanguard global mission in post-revolutionary Russia, his pedagogues were determined to shape and manipulate Vietnam’s politics and future (Nguyen 1990). From Moscow’s perspective, the future of Vietnam should be dictated by Leninist-Stalinist soviet intentions. On the other hand, their Chinese neighbors had ruled Vietnam throughout much of its history, and could not be expected to remain silent about its present or future condition. There were many influential Chinese people living in Vietnam. These Chinese included a prominent group of merchants in the south. The outside influences that effected Vietnam could well have been an additional motivating force, which helped precipitate their eventual communist revolution. Ho Chi Minh eventually became a master at courting his communist Super Power allies and utilized their strategic influence in his eventual take over and control of Vietnam.

The Chinese enclave in Saigon was a leftover from the French colonialization period. Before the French arrival, the Chinese were quickly and totally assimilated with the Vietnamese. Many mandarins of the Vietnamese Imperial Court were of Chinese origin. However, to ensure their domination over Vietnam, the French signed several treaties with China when they took control of Vietnam. In 1886, they granted the Chinese residing in Vietnam the quality of foreigners enjoying a privileged status (Nguyen 1990). In an attempt to legitimize their colonialization, they gave the Chinese immigrants special foreigners-status, as a concession to China. This served to worsen the cultural rift that had already developed as a result of the difficulties between the Catholics and Confucians. Vietnam’s resistance against French colonial rule, one of the most durable colonial regimes, was also a symbolic revolt against the western philosophical and political influences of capitalistic expansionism, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the French and later the Americans. Since its revolution, the Vietnamese communists maintained their balancing act among communist benefactors and influences, with ever increasing difficulty.


Much of Vietnam’s modern revolutionary history is directly related to the teachings of Karl Marx, as well as its modifications introduced by Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. However, the Vietnamese also have a rich heritage of administrative excellence, as well as a strong and abiding revolutionary desire for Vietnamese-based home rule that pre-dates Marx by centuries. Nevertheless, following the publication of the Communist Manifesto, in 1848, the rules of engagement were changed with regard to historical revolution and the study of revolutionary political behavior (1998), According to Marx and Engels, the proletariat revolution is a non-political event that ruptures cultural boundaries. On Revolution describes a form of insurrection, which replaces class-based political systems with classless social orders, where no hierarchical or political separation is necessary (Marx 1971). In some ways, Karl Marx’s refutation of his father’s intellectual standards and philosophic principles is similar to Ho Chi Minh’s relation with his father.

Karl Marx has become the worldwide personification of revolution in the twentieth century. The very words Marxism and Marxist acquired the direct connotation of revolution in the twentieth century. Many consider them to be equivalent. In 1850, Marx called for permanent revolution to telescope bourgeois and socialist revolutions into a single movement (Malia 1998). However, although Karl Marx was a highly educated middleclass intellectual and achieved a doctorate, at a time when the Ph.D. was an achievement of but a select few, he diverged from bourgeois norms the whole of his adult life. His completely revolutionary outlook and divergence from capitalistic norms included retaliation against the comforts that are afforded by property, including intellectual property, philosophy and religion. His anarchistic lifestyle and writings brought Marx many hardships with his notoriety, but he lived the life of revolutionary until the end. Marx’s leonine head, with its wild hair, bushy beard and flashing eyes is in itself the personification of a revolutionist (Padover 1971).

History has been less kind to communist philosophy and Karl Marx’s attempts at system building than it has been to his revolutionary persona and anarchistic spirit. Albert Brisbane, an American newspaperman who saw Marx in Cologne in 1848, later wrote that Karl Marx possessed the “passionate fire of an intrepid spirit” (Padover 1971, ix). Many idealistic believers followed Marxist rhetoric and its communist gilding, but communism’s real life adherents also misled these people. Their ideological interpretations led to several of the more inhuman tyrannies in history. Nevertheless, as Marx and later Engels explain, some inevitable variations in the fulfillment of the communist solution require ongoing evolutionary adjustments, because of the complexity associated with the progression of history. Theirs is a theory based on a scientific knowledge of history’s laws.

The scientific system of the Communist Manifesto is based on internal contradictions governing history’s culminating stage, the bourgeois mode of production (1998). Karl Marx claims that there is dialectic working, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, to seal the bourgeoisie’s doom and produce communistic results. This is the most deterministic aspect of his Marx’s system, to which Engels added that Karl Marx was truly the Darwin of social science (Malia 1998). This accolade will be apprised from both a scientific and philosophical political perspective. The record of communism and its historical and political results will be examined in the following chapters of this dissertation. This research will assess the scientific rigor of Marx’s social system. Communism is based on proletariat-based monopolistic control of the entire governmental and socio-cultural system, which according to Marx represents an organized, standing, and prepared to act, minimal winning majority waiting for historical exigencies.

To recap some of the essential points of the scientific theory of Marxist communism, we will address some of communism’s more salient parts. Marxism begins with the assumption that fundamental to human life is the satisfaction of biological needs. This is especially the case for those needs that are associated with food, clothing and shelter. The way these needs are satisfied and the way that the necessities of life are produced, has a determining impact on all other aspects of life. This impact includes the social structure, politics, law, religion and theology of a nation. Therefore, according to Marx, civilization is in search of ever more efficient ways of satisfying life’s needs (1998). This search leads to the development of private property and to the specialization of tasks, the division of labor, and to technological innovation in the means of production. Consequently, differences among people in terms of their wealth, ownership of property, and their role in the means of production give rise to economic classes.

Marxism assumes that there is an unavoidable antagonism between the classes that own the means of production and those classes that work the means of production. The owners of the productive means constantly strive to expropriate more of the value and wealth that is produced by the working class. The result is class conflict. According to Karl Marx, there is always the potential of class conflict and this potential frequently becomes actualized (1998). Accordingly, government and the state are political instruments of control and repression that inevitably reflect the interests of those who own the means of production. This is the point of departure for neo-Marxist theorists who explain the survival of capitalism in terms of varying degrees of state autonomy (Poulantzas 1978; Miliband 1969). Consequently, history is the record of political and social change that is the consequence of class conflict.

Revolution occurs when the social structure prevents further economic development. In Marx’s terms, the property relations of production are incompatible with the material forces of production (1998). To date, capitalism is the most efficient system of economic production. It is based on the organized association of specialized labor. However, capitalism’s system of distribution is based on private interests. It contradicts and is also in conflict with the essentially social characteristics of production (Marx 1998). Hence, the potential for revolution in capitalist society increases when the following conditions prevail:

  1.  Revolution among capitalists is heightened as capitalism is more developed.
  2. Revolution in capitalist society increases as the possibility of continued capitalist development, through imperialist control of less developed countries declines.
  3. Revolution among capitalists is heightened as the differences between capitalism’s production potentiality and society’s consumption capacity increases, until the former is higher than the latter.
  4. Revolution in capitalist society increases as the class-consciousness of workers increases. This augmentation includes their sense of international solidarity. It also increases, as workers become aware of the liberating and creative potential of a socialist society.
  5. Revolution among capitalists is heightened as workers’ associations outside the immediate setting of the factory are more institutionalized and bring together an ever higher percentage of the working class. This ideological coalescence includes trade unions and eventually political parties.
  6. Revolution in capitalist society increases as ever more severe economic crises of overproduction and under consumption polarize society between a shrinking bourgeoisie and a growing proletariat. The middle class disappears and the proletariat absorbs the lower class and peasantry.
  7. Revolution among capitalists is heightened as the impoverishment of the proletariat pushes workers and their families to the point where physical survival is in doubt.
  8. Revolution in capitalist society increases as revolution occurs in other capitalist countries. Trotsky later elaborates on this point in his theory of permanent revolution (1957).

These essential characteristics of Marxist ideology will be compared and contrasted with other conceptualizations of revolutionary rhetoric and philosophies of science to discern the import and relevance of future Marxist revolutions in the modern world. However, next the research will focus on Vietnam and its revolutionary role in the modern world. Vietnam is fertile for revolutionary study because of its long and lurid historical past and its intimate relationship with revolutionary overthrow and counterinsurgency.













The emergence of communism in Vietnam can be likened to the evolution of a Indochinese political chameleon that expediently adapted, and transmogrified at will, to fulfill categorical objectives to seize its prey – ultimate power in Southeast Asia. The complete evolution of communism in Vietnam, from the creation of the first communist cell in 1925 to the imposition of agricultural collectivism on the whole of North Vietnam in 1956, divides into six consecutive movements (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). Each one marked a particular phase in the general development of the movement. Likewise, each movement differs from the others in its short-term program, political orientation and revolutionary tactics as well as in the external leadership acknowledged by the Vietnamese communists. They paid allegiance sometimes to Peking, sometimes directly to Moscow, or indirectly by way of intermediary staging positions in Canton, Shanghai, Bangkok and Paris (Hoang 1964; Honey 1964).

These phases of revolutionary activity were interspersed by periods of relative stagnation. This inactivity and decline was due, either to severe repression, or to internal difficulties. The six principle successive movements were the Thanh-Nien (1925-28), the Nghe-An Soviets (1930-31), the Popular Front (1936-37), the Viet-Minh (1941-46), the Resistance War (1946-54), and Land Reform (1953-56) in the last phase (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). From 1951, the communists began to clear the way for Land reform, which is, in effect, the establishment of a dictatorship of the proletariat. This dictatorship was accompanied by the imposition of the Agricultural Tax and by a wave of terror (Hoang 1964; Honey 1964).

Ho Chi Minh received his political education in Moscow during the early years of Stalin’s reign of power. The revolutionary firmly believed in the two fundamental principles that formed the basis of Stalinist orthodoxy. First, Ho believed that the dictatorship of the proletariat should be achieved in two stages as it had been in Russia. The first stage was a bourgeois-democratic revolution that would precede and pave the way for a communist revolution. The second aspect of Stalin’s shrewdness was that the workers alone were capable of good revolutionary leadership. On many later occasions, Ho Chi Minh made clear his underlying attitude that peasants could only be regarded as long-term allies, and not rank-and-file, of the Vietnamese political organization (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985).

The first of these principles determined Ho Chi Minh’s attitude toward the various nationalist groups that existed in Vietnam at the time. He regarded them as temporary allies for the achievement of the first stage and considered the nationalists as expendable when occasion required (Honey 1964). Ho competed with the nationalists relentlessly for political supremacy. He even betrayed certain key nationalists to secure funds for his party. Ho Chi Minh’s belief in the second principle led him to devote more of his time to organizing workers than controlling peasants. His main concern seems to have been to secure the spread of Marxist ideology in Vietnam. He ushered this agenda along by indoctrinating intellectuals so that they could later organize workers into a network of communist cells in all the industrial centers (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985).

Ho Chi Minh determined to wait until his nationalist rivals had successfully accomplished their bourgeois-democratic revolution before attempting to snatch political power from them. However, he never lost sight of his underlying intention of unchallenged political supremacy over all his political rivals. Ho’s rivalry with the nationalists secured for him and his followers a measure of tolerance from the colonial administration. The French colonialists probably saw in the communist movement a force that could rid them of the nationalists and their uncompromising anti-French attitude (Hoang 1964; Honey 1964). The communist slogans, though anti-colonialist, were far less violent in character than the slogans of the nationalists. However, several unforeseen events changed the public image of the communist movement and also led to unanticipated consequences. Like many revolutionaries and their plans, the firebrand potential of spontaneity often foils, disrupts or distorts the judicious and well-laid plans of insurgency movements (Trotsky 1957).

The first problem the communist neophytes and their organizations faced was money and the capital influx of resources to keep their movement viable. The communist cells in Vietnam ran short of money and in order to secure the necessary funds, their members resorted to numerous robberies with violence throughout the country (Greene 1990; Nguyen 1990; Fall 1985). Owing to some oversight in their training, these people looked upon the all rich Vietnamese as their enemies. Thus they robbed them of their money and jewelry, using violence if necessary, whenever they saw fit. This lack of training may have been a consequence of translational slippage between Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese versions of Marxist-Leninist rhetoric.

The central committee in Canton was responsible for these hasty translations, which were often far from clear and correct. However, the main fault lay with the Chinese translators who had previously translated the documents from Russian, for they were still unversed in Marxism. The word “communism,” for instance, was rendered as “community of wealth” while “proletariat” appeared in Chinese as “wealthless” (Hoang 1964, 59). Nevertheless, such acts of flagrant larceny soon caused public opinion to identify communism with gangsterism, and also greatly antagonized the Vietnamese bourgeoisie (Fall 1985). The open criminality of the communists also gave the French administration reason to condemn all communist agents as bandits, and jail them when they were caught.

The second significant problem the communist novices and their organizations faced was the arrest of Phan Boi Chau. The beloved nationalist leader’s incarceration was directly attributed to Ho Chi Minh, who sold-out Phan to the French, to eliminate his rival and for funds to help his struggling organization and fledgling communist party (Nguyen 1990). This caused the nationalists to regard the communists with grave suspicion. Indeed, all cooperation between the communists and the nationalists ceased. Although there was no open conflict at this phase of the revolution between the two groups, from then on there was an undercurrent of hostility that developed between the two groups. It was reported by some of Nguyen Ai Quoc’s (Ho Chi Minh) followers that, after this act of treachery, the communist leader gave the following reasons for his action:

Phan was growing too old to be of any further use to the Revolution; his arrest and subsequent trial in Vietnam would produce a surge of patriotism which the Revolution greatly needed; and finally, the money received from the French would serve to pay for new recruits (Hoang 1964, 33).

Ho Chi Minh was right on all counts. He stirred Revolutionary sentiment, ridded the movement of his sagacious rival and increased the war chest of his party. However, this act of betrayal was also a turning point in the revolutionary conflict within Vietnam and all of Southeast Asia. This one act would eventually divide the country along nationalist and communist lines eventually to culminate with American forces coming to Vietnam (Nguyen 1990).

The third crucial predicament the communists faced developed in China. The sudden rift that developed in 1927, between Chiang Kai-shek and his communist collaborators, brought an abrupt end to the first Russian impact on China and eastern Asia. Michael Borodin, the head of the Soviet consulate in China and political advisor to the Kuomintang, was obliged to withdraw from China, taking with him to Moscow all his collaborators, including Ho Chi Minh (Hoang 1964). When Chiang attacked the Chinese communists and massacred many of their numbers, Ho Chi Minh was still teaching at the War College in Whampoa. The course had to be stopped at once and the students were obliged to return home the best they could.

A few days later, Ho Chi Minh met a group of his former students at Canton and provided them with inspirational words to hearten them, by saying, “Don’t de discouraged by the recent setback. Remember that a storm is a good opportunity for the Tung (pine) and the Bach (cypress) to show their strength and their stability” (Hoang 1964, 61). In making use of this old Chines proverb, Ho Chi Minh provided his students with the inspirational support and intestinal fortitude to continue. From these humble beginnings Ho Chi Minh would eventually return to foment a successful revolution against French colonial rule in Vietnam. The following evidence presented in this chapter will provide additional analysis of the mechanics of his successful revolutionary initiatives.

Philosophically, it is assumed that the nature of revolution is beyond deterministic classification. This philosophical and scientific point also leads to the ultimate conclusion of this dissertation study. In short, it is the deterministic historical progression Marx describes that limits the scientific validity of his theory. His manifesto is designed to seize political power in order to extract, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie. After removing the capital from the middle class, Marx intends that society centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State. The final stage regards the proletariat being organized as the ruling class (Marx and Engels 1998).

The resulting monopolistic power, described in the Communist Manifesto, turns out to be Marx’s undoing. Monopoly inevitably invites competition. Indeed, a hundred and fifty years of empirical history should partially confirm that the communist failure stems from the intractable logic of the project itself. The very science that Marx uses to prove his case also proves it to be uncertain. The two main axes of Marx’s theory, historical necessity and revolutionary worker consciousness have never intersected in everyday life. Marxism in practice produced the opposite of the results intended in theory, because force was required to draw historical necessity and the revolutionary workers consciousness into intersecting conflagration (Malia 1998).

The burgeoning moments that immediately follow the initiation of revolutionary conflagration are intense phenomena that require scientific scrutiny and intellectual consideration. A logical starting point for analyzing political revolution is the irrevocable nature of revolutionary beginnings. Thus, the evidentiary base for this analysis includes the modern revolutions and counterinsurgencies that occurred and are occurring in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s revolutionary evolution will be considered in order to examine and study the dynamics of revolutionary propagation. Hence, the dissertation will develop a stimulus-based theory of revolutionary conflagration. The stimulus theory of revolution that is developed and tested in this dissertation is a conceptually justifiable mathematical idealization, but the non-linear model remains statistically unconfirmed. Consequently, the intention of this dissertation is to identify and classify the components of dissident political innovation and revolutionary political action, by differentiating factors that bring about or prevent demonstrable and lasting political change.























It may be argued that Vietnam is the perfect venue for evaluating the dialectic between property-based systems and collectivist societies. Its unique history provides an advantageous setting for examining various revolutionary political consequences within this developing but politically tumultuous nation-state. Vietnam is also an ideal venue for studying revolutionary conflicts and the ensuing civil wars that seem to follow them, as evidenced by the histories of the United States and Russia. The focus on Vietnam will allow a dialectical examination of its political future and will also allow us to begin to answer the following questions. Is revolutionary change possible in Vietnam today, without violent counterinsurgency? If revolutionary overthrow occurred in Vietnam, as was possible during the late 1980s when the fervor of perestroika was high and the economy was wrecked with runaway inflation, could the ensuing nation have been held together amidst its chronic regional bickering and cultural infighting (Nguyen 1990)? Could Vietnam succeed as a Neo-Platonic republic, or will it continue to languish under its current tyranny of the proletariat masses? The first step to finding answers to these questions is to examine the current political milieu in Vietnam and to trace its antecedent conditions.

Although ridden by the potentials of tautology, systems theories provide us with a logical starting place to develop a suitable theory of revolutionary change. Despite related conundrums associated with systemic boundary conditions and variations of their characteristics, theoretical premises based on these types of basic systems-related indicators help clear a philosophical pathway for more substantive and empirically testable theories (Greene 1999; Penrose 1999, 1994; Witten 1997; Hawking 1996; Hawking and Penrose 1996; Hofstadter 1980). Hence, we assume that people are naturally social and social organization is inevitable whenever there is sustained interaction between people (Plato 2000; Aristotle 2000).

Types of social structures may vary from one society to another as well as within the same society over time. However, the essential functions performed by these social structures are generally similar. Accordingly, varying degrees of inequality in the distribution of wealth status, and power characterizes almost all societies. This inequality tends to correspond to a division of labor, which is functional to the survival of the society, and corresponds to formal hierarchies and inequalities that are especially characteristic of modern societies.

The principle functions of social structures are to integrate society’s members, enabling them to perform their roles within the cultural setting in which they exist. Social structures provide citizens with values,beliefs, and norms, which explain and legitimate intrinsic inequalities and justify everyone’s role within the structural whole (Plato 2000). In theory, revolution occurs when existing social structures fail to perform their essential functions and break down, causing revolutionary potential to increase. Hence, the findings of this research indicate that the potential for revolution in social systems increases when the following conditions prevail:

  1. The probability of systemic disequilibrium greatens as social, economic, or political change is not supported, or legitimated, by a complementary change in values.
  2. The potential for chaos among social systems increases as changing values no longer support or legitimate existing institutions and relationships.
  3. The probability of systemic disequilibrium greatens as there is declining consensus on the general goals appropriate to realizing society’s goals.
  4. The potential for anarchy within social systems grows as there is declining consensus concerning which means are appropriate for the society.
  5. The probability of systemic Pandemonium swells, as prevailing elites are unable or unwilling to reform the system in response to changing values or socioeconomic conditions.
  6. The probability of systemic disequilibrium greatens as the government’s coercive capabilities decline.
  7. The likelihood of systemic discord swells as counter-elites, especially including those from the military, anticipate success in attempting to overthrow prevailing elites.

These systemic indicators provide a substantive framework within which further enumeration of the stimulus theory can be incorporated. Schematically, reasonable elements of political action and decision-making must be discovered rather than taken for granted, and their discovery almost always requires an assessment of the various influences bearing on every decision made (Feld and Jordan 1983). We assume that the clear and present nature as well as bounded rationality of potentially violent revolutionaries is not beyond discovery and mitigation. We also assume that open revolution is the most radical solution. Before such a drastic and far-reaching solution is considered, all other courses of action should be considered first. If through this research we can offer any possibilities of alternative solutions to open conflagration, this project will have succeeded. Consequently, this research is intended to open new vistas for the study of the varied and often complicated influences that bear upon the conduct and adaptations of individual political actors in revolutionary settings.

The next addition to the stimulus theory includes aspects of modernization theories of revolution. This particular addition is directly associated with the irreversible nature of revolutionary beginnings and the one-way progression of time. Temporal progression is intrinsic to all reality and is also the reason that life and biological existence is possible (Hawking 1988; Prigogine and Stengers 1985). The consequences of modernization and its disruption of tradition according to irreversible temporal progression adds to the stimulus theory of revolution. With the tentative exception of only very primitive societies, the conceptual addition of timing implies that all societies, are composed of social class hierarchies. Among these hierarchies is a set of authoritative institutions that are essential for resolving conflict and setting social priorities, including the establishment of the state (Dante 2000). As a consequence, all societies are confronted with the forces of change, at one time or another. The consequences of irreversible change are most commonly associated with modernization. However, there are aspects of socio-economic change that are not strictly associated with modernization (Zimmerman 1983).

Modernization has tended to mobilize new sectors of society in Vietnam. These elements in Vietnamese society have acquired a sense of identity that is expressed in terms of economic interest and survival. New demands are placed on the government of Vietnam constantly by those elements of Vietnamese society. However, the older, more traditional sectors of Vietnamese society tend to oppose change and feel threatened by the groups and interests that have been mobilized by modernization, especially the Vietnam War (Nguyen 1990). Nevertheless, these more traditional sectors, like the local Buddhist Monks, also impose demands for human rights on the government of Vietnam. It follows then, that revolution will occur again in Vietnam, if the government or, more generally the state, is unable or unwilling to adapt to the demands and interests mobilized by modernization in the country of Vietnam.

The revolutionary potential in the modernizing nation will tend to increase as the rate of modernization increases. It will also grow as the effects of modernization are identified with an alien, hostile, or imperialist culture like the one represented by Stalinist-based Marxist-Leninist-Maoist communism. This potential will become exaggerated as the rate of social mobilization is faster than the rate of economic development as is the current case in Vietnam. It will also be exacerbated as the effects of modernization reinforce existing cultural cleavages and Balkanizes extant cultural divides. Thus we can expect revolutionary activity in Vietnam as modernization


introduces status discrepancies between the economic influence of its emigrant and dissident population and their non-existent political representation (Nguyen 1990). Hence revolution will wax until a flash point as Vietnam’s traditional agrarian sector is rapidly commercialized.

As the peasantry of Vietnam becomes increasingly independent of Land Reform and the land owning classes of the communist party, they will begin to develop strong traditions of communal solidarity that will cross all cultural and geographic divides that presently frustrate Southeast Asia. This potential for conflict will thus grow as existing social classes are unable or unwilling to generate the agricultural surpluses essential to modernization, including urbanization and industrialization. The political situation will also continue to worsen in Vietnam as demands for increased political representation and participation are suppressed by the state. In time, the capacity for revolutionary disruption will persist and grow as modernization continues to be initiated from a centralized state bureaucracy instead of by enterprising social classes (Chotigeat, Boyet and Varanyuwatana 1995).

The problems will continue with communism in Vietnam, because it has been unable, or has refused, to assume welfare functions previously performed by traditional social structures, like Confucianism, Buddhism and a widely based public educational system. This research also indicates increased revolutionary potential in Vietnam as opportunities for political participation increase faster than the state’s institutional capacities for organizing and accommodating participation demands. This is especially the case because demands for universal suffrage are outpacing the organization of mass-based political parties in Vietnam. This potential is heightened more as civilian political elites exercise formal authority over the military or military emigres (Gurr 1968). Modernization theory may be especially relevant to civilian-dominated regimes, because civilian elites are less likely than military elites to try to, or be able to, maintain power through the use of undisguised coercion. Thus the spies and police force that have replaced the original military-based revolutionaries in Vietnam may be more vulnerable to the effects of modernization.

Normally when discussions among adversaries ceases, open conflict ensues. Communication is paramount to diplomatic solutions and tactful conflict resolution. First, however, we must consider the nature of communication and communicative competence among political actors thrown into the cauldron of fomenting revolution. If, as this research project suggests, revolutionary conflagration can be systematically broken down into its basal elements, the sequences of behavior that cause revolution will be more closely understood. If the sequences of behavior are more closely understood, scholars and diplomats will more realistically understand the ever-increasing and burgeoning nature of revolutionary conflagration. Political discourse and communicative competence must be discriminated into its cognitive interactive networks to determine which factors induce these types of sequences of behavior to be exhibited (Johnson 1993).

As the Vietnamese axiom states, the past is undoable. We must plan our actions carefully, to avoid having to try the impossible of re-living the past. The direction of temporal sequence is uniform and omnipresent in the workings of our minds. The Davies J-curve and loss aversion curve predict the nature of time’s unrelenting progress from the past into the future (Quattrone and Tversky 1988; Barnes and Kaase 1979; Davies 1962). Thus, modeling unique political decisions, as occurring within the narrowest slices of a funnel of causality, requires that the funnel axis delineates a cognitive arrow of time (Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes 1960). According to Einstein, who only accepted irreversibility at the phenomenological level, the arrow of temporal progression may only be an illusion that is produced by improbable initial conditions (Einstein 1961; 1954; Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen 1935). Consequently, the new beginnings of revolution may intrinsically operate at primal levels that are as volatile as the nature of their mission.

Whether expressed as economic class, political interest group, or guerrilla army, social organization always has as its foundation the individual. Fundamental to understanding the individual is the notion of understanding motivation, and understanding motivation means understanding perception. Among individuals’ basic motivating drives is a concern for ever-greater security. A sense of increasing security is best derived from certain a priori values (Plato 2000). However, in modern society, increasing security is likely to be associated with individuals’ perception of improving conditions of life (Moore 1966). Perceptions of improving conditions raise individuals’ expectations of continued improvement. But expectations that are satisfied are replaced by new, and ever higher, expectations (Aristotle 2000). Consequently, feelings of frustration are the consequence of experiences that are not satisfied (Ly 1992, 1990). Aggressive behavior is the consequence of frustration, and unsatisfied expectations lead to frustration, which in turn, eventually ends in aggression.

This research indicates that revolution occurs at a primal individual level of cerebral activity, which coalesces around some ideological, spiritual or philosophical attractor potential. Revolutions occur when sufficiently high levels of frustration provoke individuals into cognitive aggression against the state. At the level of the individual, revolutionary potential rises, as levels of individual frustration become likely to provoke collective aggression with political consequences. Individual revolutionary tempers also rise when relative derivation escalates. The gap between expectations and perceived reality and between perceived need and perceived opportunity increases. Hence cognitive dissonance occurs, as aggressive behavior becomes the consequence of the individual’s attempts to reduce perceived inconsistencies, in terms of behavior, the social environment, and social identity.

Status discrepancy occurs, as rewards like social status, are perceived as lower than the rewards that are deserved or have been earned (Inglehart 1990). Thus political alienation and low legitimacy are heightened, as individuals perceive an inconsistency between their personal values, and the policies, personnel or institutions of government. Feelings of efficacy ebb, as desires for high political involvement are contradicted by feelings of low political influence. Eventually, aggressive behavior is regarded as ethical. Aggressive behavior tends to propagate in a society, as aggression becomes a general characteristic of that society. Indeed, anarchistic aggression surges into manifest behavior, as counter-elites and their potential followers perceive a widening chasm between the need for system reform and the possibilities of reform. This behavior is reinforced, as aggressive behavior is perceived as likely to succeed among cohorts. It becomes accepted, as aggressive behavior has proven successful in the past. In conclusion, revolutionary insurrection is heightened to the spark of conflagration, as a period of economic improvement is followed by economic decline.

. This case study, concerning Vietnam, is intended to ascertain the utility and test a scientific stimulus theory of revolution. This research will continue to examine how and whether it is possible to initiate measures to emancipate the enslaved peoples of Vietnam, through reorganization and restructuring processes, in order to implement an idealized version of a Neo-Platonic Republican solution in Southeast Asia. As a consequence, these philosophical overviews and historical synopses are primarily intended to identify, characterize and differentiate the various kinds of stimuli and trigger mechanisms that tend to bring about demonstrable revolutionary political change. Following this review of Vietnam and the Vietnamese situation, the implications of this study must be considered in light of the future, and the development of political alliances and regimes, in the world of the 21st Century.




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Ly Tong was bom on September 1,1948 in Hue, Vietnam. He received his early education in the most prestigious schools in Vietnam. In the mission to stop the communists’ aggressive advancement as a lieutenant pilot, he was shot down in his A37 Dragon Fly bomber in April 5, 1975, the month the Communists took over Saigon. He spent the next five years in “reeducation” camps and was praised by his fellow inmates as well as his enemies for his heroism.

In 1980, he escaped from Communist prison and tried twice to steal an airplane to bomb the prison headquarters in order to rescue his fellow inmates. When those efforts failed, he fled from Vietnam to Singapore by walking across Southeast Asia for about two years, covering 2,500 kilometers, along which he negotiated minefields, escaped from prisons of three countries, and swam the Johore Strait. His exploits were praised in the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and in many newspapers all over the world in 17 different languages as well as by President Ronald Reagan: “Your courage is an example and inspiration to all who would know the price of freedom.” In exile, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Political Science and a minor in French in 1988 and a Master of Arts degree in Political Science in 1990 from the University of New Orleans, Louisiana. His schedule to defend his Ph. D. Dissertation “Elephantism and the Causes of War Initiation ” on April 24,1992 was adjourned due to the replacement of his exam committee’s chair. He went on a leaflet-dropping mission and was arrested after having bailed out of the airplane and was imprisoned for 6 years. During the time waiting his defense day to be scheduled for his second Ph. D. Dissertation “A Stimulus Theory of Revolution: Implications for Political Innovation to Confront the Tyranny against Human Rights in Vietnam Ly Tong carried out two more leaflet-dropping missions: One in Havana, Cuba, on January 1, 2000 and one in Vietnam on November 17, 2000 to apply his theory in order to spark an uprising. For the Cuban mission, he received a “Hero’s Welcome” in the Three Kings Parade by a half million exiled Cubans in Miami, Florida and for the second mission in Vietnam, he was imprisoned 7 years by Thai corrupt court which conspired with his enemy. Thanks to Thai Coup d’Etat, he was released without being extradited to communist Vietnam as an Extradition Lower Court had decided. He was also a major stimulus to win a “Little Saigon Battle” in San Jose, California, by his 28-day hunger strike. He went on another mission in South Korea to fight for North Korean and Chinese Freedom and Democracy on 8 August 2008. Admirers and newspapers have called Ly Tong: Mr. Impossible, Leaflet Cowboy, James Bond, Resistance Icon, Freedom Fighter, the Last Action Hero, Top Gun and Papillon (for his 6 escapes in 21 years of imprisonment as a political prisoner).

  1. List of Degrees held:
  2. A.  UNO 1988
  3. A.  UNO 1990


  1. Graduate Courses completed at UNO:


POLI 4710   POLI 4889  POLI 6120  POLI 7050

6600        6002       6700

6990        6710       4990

4755        6990       6245

6001        6990       6310

6800        4870       6900


  1. No courses left.







Author: Lý Tống

Lý Tống sinh ngày 01/09/1945 tại Huế, gia nhập Binh chủng Không Quân năm 1965, thuộc Khoá 65A, và du học Hoa Kỳ năm 1966. Vì trừng trị một niên trưởng hắc ám, Lý Tống bị kỷ luật, bị sa thải và trở về nước. Lý Tống được tuyển vào hãng Pacific Architech & Engineer và chỉ trong vòng 3 tháng thực tập ngành Thảo Chương Viên, Lý Tống tự động sửa một program chính của hãng, giảm thiểu nhân số phòng Phân Tích từ 5 nhân viên xuống còn một mình Lý Tống. Do công trạng thần kỳ đó, Lý Tống được Chủ Tịch Hội IBM Chapter Việt Nam đề nghị bầu vào chức Phó Chủ Tịch và cấp học bổng du học ngành Programmer. Nha Động Viên đã gọi Lý Tống nhập ngũ Khoá 4/68 Sĩ Quan Trừ Bị Thủ Đức trước khi Lý Tống hoàn thành thủ tục nên anh bỏ mất cơ hội du học Hoa Kỳ lần thứ nhì. Lý Tống là người duy nhất bị sa thải vì kỷ luật được trở lại Không Quân Khoá 33/69 và tốt nghiệp Hoa Tiêu ngành Quan Sát. Năm 1973, Lý Tống được huấn luyện lái phi cơ A.37, trở thành Phi Công Phản Lực Cường Kích. Vốn là người của xứ cố đô ngàn năm văn vật, Lý Tống là một tổng hợp của nhiều con người : Vừa giang hồ lãng tử, vừa nghệ sĩ, businessman, vừa là hoa tiêu gan lì gai góc. Đề cập đến các chiến tích lẫy lừng với danh hiệu Top Gun của Lý Tống, có câu nhận xét của Phi công cùng Phi Đoàn Ó Đen thường được nhắc nhở đến : “Nếu 4 Vùng Chiến thuật có 4 Lý Tống, VC sẽ không ngóc đầu lên nỗi !“. Về Danh Hiệu PAPILLON, Lý Tống đã sáu (6) lần vượt ngục, chỉ thua Papillon Pháp, người vượt ngục chín (9) lần. Sự khác biệt giữa Henri Charrièrre và Lý Tống gồm các điểm : * Henri chuyên vượt ngục bằng đường biển, Lý Tống “chuyên trị“ đường bộ.* Henri luôn luôn dùng tiền nhờ người khác giúp đỡ và hợp tác, Lý Tống chỉ trốn một mình và mọi kế hoạch từ A đến Z đều chính tự mình vạch ra và thực hiện. * Ngoài ra, Henri chỉ chú tâm vượt rào “ra“ vì sự sống còn của bản thân, Lý Tống còn 3 lần vượt rào “vào“ các Phi trường (2 lần Phi trường Tân Sơn Nhất và 1 lần Phi trường Ubon Rachathani tại Thái Lan, tức Tổng cộng 9 lần bằng Henri Charrière) để đánh cắp máy bay, thi hành các Điệp vụ vì sự sống còn của Dân tộc VN. Thành tích vượt ngục được Ông Julian, Trưởng Phòng Phản gián Singapore, đánh giá : “Lý Tống là bậc thầy của Papillon“. Tháng 09/1981 Lý Tống rời quê hương tìm tự do bằng đường bộ, xuyên qua 5 quốc gia, dài hơn 3 ngàn cây số, trong thời gian gần 2 năm, trốn thoát 3 nhà tù, cuối cùng bơi qua eo biển Johore Baru từ Mã Lai đến Singapore, và được chính phủ Hoa Kỳ chấp thuận cho đi định cư tại Mỹ vào ngày 01/09/1983. Cuộc hành trình vượt biên tìm tự do của Lý Tống ly kỳ vô tiền khoáng hậu, độc nhất vô nhị của thế kỷ 20 được Tổng Thống Ronald Reagan vinh danh qua nhận định : “Your courage is an example and inspiration to all who would know the price of freedom“ (Sự can trường bất khuất của Lý Tống là một biểu tượng và nguồn cảm hứng cho những ai muốn biết cái giá của tự do) ; và được ca tụng bởi những Tờ báo, Tạp chí nổi tiếng nhất thế giới như : Barry Wain của The Wall Street Journal : “Ly Tong is in a class by himself“ và Anthony Paul của Reader’s Digest : “His flight has become one of the great escape saga of our time“....... (Xin đọc thêm các bài tiểu sử của Lý Tống)

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