The August Revolution of 1945 constituted the most important turning-point in recent Vietnamese history.It formally marked the end of French colonialism in Vietnam and the beginning of Vietnamese national independence. It also marked the end of the Confucianist-oriented monarchy and the beginning of a Communist-oriented democratic republic. Much debate has been focused on why the Communist-dominated Viet Minh Front succeeded in seizing political power in August 1945. Anti-Communist detractors have generally attributed the Viet Minh success to an historical accident, i.e., the Viet Minh happened to be on the scene as the Japanese surrendered to the Allies. The Vietnamese Communists themselves have narcisistically attributed their success to skillful leadership in organization and propaganda. Actually the August Revolution must be explained by both the “objective material conditions” of the Vietnamese society of the time and the “subjective” predisposition of the Viet Minh. In March 1945, the Japanese occupation forces had destroyed the French colonial regime in a lightning coup d'etat. The general political confusion following the coup aggravated a severe famine which then ravaged Vietnam. Of several Vietnamese political groups, the Viet Minh emerged as the only one capable of organizing the Vietnamese people through their existing “liberation Committees.” In August 1945, following the Japanese surrender, the Viet Minh quickly seized political power and has retained it since. Thus both historical fortuity and revolutionary leadership accounted for the Viet Minh success.

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