Today, May 19, we honor Ho Chi Minh on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Founding member of the PCF, delegate to the 1920 Tours Congress from 25 to 30 December 1920, Nguyễn Ái Quốc (Ho Chi Minh’s name during his revolutionary activities in France) participated in the 18th SFIO Congress. He defended Lenin’s thesis on nations and the colonial question and approved the creation of the French Communist Party.
Ho Chi Minh – How I Became a Communist
Ho Chi Minh –
The path that led me to Leninism...
Published in April 1960 in a Soviet magazine entitled Problems of the East.
Selected Works, vol. 4 (Hanoi: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1962).
After the First World War, I earned my living in Paris, sometimes as a retoucher for a photographer, sometimes as a painter of “Chinese antiques” (made in France!). I would distribute leaflets denouncing the crimes committed by the French colonialists in Viet Nam.
At that time, I supported the October Revolution only instinctively without understanding its historical importance. I loved and admired Lenin because he was a great patriot who had liberated his compatriots; until then, I had not read any of his books.
The reason why I joined the French Socialist Party was that these “ladies and gentlemen” – as I called my comrades at the time – showed their sympathy for me, for the struggle of the oppressed peoples. But I did not understand what a party, a trade union was, nor what socialism and communism were.
There were heated discussions in the branches of the Socialist Party about whether the Socialist Party should remain in the Second International, whether a Second and a Half International should be established or whether the Socialist Party should join Lenin’s Third International. I attended the meetings regularly, two or three times a week, and listened carefully to the discussions. First of all, I could not fully understand. Why were the discussions so lively? Whether it was with the Second, Second and a Half or Third International, the revolution could be carried out. What was the point of discussing it then? As for the First International, what had become of it?
What I most wanted to know – and this was not discussed at the meetings – was which International supported the peoples of the colonial countries?
I raised this question – the most important one in my opinion – at a meeting. Some comrades replied: It is the Third International, not the Second International. And one comrade gave me to read Lenin’s “Thesis on National and Colonial Issues”.
There were political terms in this thesis that were difficult to understand. But by rereading it over and over again, I could finally grasp the essence of it. What emotion, enthusiasm, lucidity and confidence it instilled in me! I was overjoyed to tears. Although I was alone in my room, I shouted aloud as if I were addressing large crowds: “Dear martyred compatriots! This is what we need, this is the way to our liberation!
After that, I put my full trust in Lenin, in the Third International.
In the past, at the meetings of the party branch, I listened only to the discussion. I had a vague conviction that all were logical and that I could not distinguish who was right and who was wrong. But from then on, I also immersed myself in the debates and discussed fervently. Although I still lacked the French words to express all my thoughts, I crushed the allegations that attacked Lenin and the Third International with no less vigor. My only argument was: “If you do not condemn colonialism, if you do not side with the colonial people, what kind of revolution are you making? »
Not only did I attend meetings of my own party branch, but I also went to other party branches to define “my position”. I must now repeat that comrades Marcel Cachin, Vaillant Couturier, Monmousseau and many others helped me to broaden my knowledge. Finally, at the Tours congress, I voted with them for our membership in the Third International.
In the beginning, patriotism, not yet communism, led me to put my trust in Lenin, in the Third International. In the course of the struggles, studying Marxism-Leninism alongside participation in concrete activities, I realized that only socialism and communism could free the oppressed nations and workers of the world from slavery.
There is a legend, in our country as in China, about the miraculous “Book of the Wise Men”. In the face of great difficulties, we open it and find a way out of it. Leninism is not only a miraculous “book of sages”, a compass for us, Vietnamese revolutionaries and peoples: it is also the radiant sun that illuminates our path towards the final victory, socialism and communism.