Tag Archives: land ownership

Viet Cong’s Libertarian Appeal

Reading Vietnam at War by Mark Bradley, which is a brief but excellent survey of the period of Vietnamese decolonization (1945-1975) from the point of view of the Vietnamese, I encountered a particularly interesting passage:

“By some estimates the NLF controlled as much as half the population in southern Vietnam by 1963.

The reasons so many people came to support the Front so rapidly varied. For many peasants, the Diem government failed to assure a minimal level of well being and safety for their families while the NLF appeared to do so. Middle, poor, and landless peasants (trung, ban, and co nong) found little to like in Diem’s land reform efforts. In deference to the regime’s landlord (dia chu) base of support, it only redistributed land when holdings exceeded 250 acres, forced those who received land to pay for it, and tolerated land rents at 25 to 40 per cent of output. By contrast the NLF’s land reform programme avoided the excesses of the northern land reform in the mid 1950s and returned to the moderate DRV policies of the 1940s. It set maximum rents at 15 per cent, limited total landholding to 15 acres, and redistributed land at a nominal cost. Similarly, the Diem government’s regressive tax policy protected wealthy interests while the NLF’s more progressive taxation, a return to earlier norms based on the ability to pay, eased the burden on rural peasants.”

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