The Struggle For Land In Vietnam The Vietnamese People Had Successfully Fought For Their Land For Over 2000 Years. America Was No Different From The Others That Were Defeated.

2835 words - 11 pages

The French colonized Vietnam in the late 1800s. Before this time, land in Vietnam had been communally owned, in the sense that individual households had access to it by membership to the village. "Every family had land to till that it could call its own"(Gettleman 8). Many peasants had inherited the land because their ancestors had farmed it for generations before them. The land was available for the people of Vietnam, but they did not own it in a capitalistic sense. Everything the Vietnamese had known was altered by French conquest.When the French took over Vietnam, they had certain objectives to accomplish. The main focus was to provide capital accumulation and high profits for investors. They also aimed to obtain raw materials for the French industry. The French outlined specific methods for achieving their goals. They seized the public lands of the Vietnamese people and gave the lands to investors. "They confiscated the land belonging to the locals and gave this land to themselves and their Vietnamese collaborators. Tens of thousands of acres of peasants' lands changed hands this way"(Gettleman 8). This was the French intention, helping them achieve another method of success, to transfer wealth from the peasants to landowners. Because most of the Vietnamese became landless, they were forced to work as tenant farmers for the landowners. The peasants who worked as tenant farmers had to pay rent and pay for all the expenses of cultivation. The French, in a classic move of modern capitalism, transformed the economy from that of subsistence to export. All natural resources of Vietnam were exploited completely. Rice exportation was the most profitable way of making money for the French and Vietnamese elites. If any rice was left over after exportation, then and only then were the Vietnamese people allowed to consume it. Industrial and commercial industries were also set up throughout Vietnam. The Vietnamese peasants worked coalmines, railroads, and rubber plantations. The French began to make loans to the extremely poor Vietnamese. But on these loans they charged 50-70 percent interest, forcing them into even deeper debt. The French also imposed policies of high taxation on items such as land, tobacco, salt, alcohol, and other products. The brutal taxation of peasants helped finance railroads, roads, canals, bridges and ports, all vital for the export of rice, rubber, coal, and minerals from the interior of Vietnam to the coast. The most profitable venture the French took was to establish an opium franchise. In the early years the French imported opium from India and sold it to Chinese merchants, taxing it 10 percent. The Vietnamese people had been fighting the opium trade against China for a long time, but when the French came in they forced drugs onto the country. Even so, throughout the colonies, huge debts were accumulating. The French sent in financial analyst General Paul Doumer to come up with fiscal reforms, to save and make money for the...

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