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Historical Dictionary

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EMULATION CAMPAIGN

Known in Vietnamese as phong trao thi dua ai quoc, “patriotic emulation campaigns” began in earnest in 1948 as the French moved to create a counter-revolutionary state under Bao Dai, potentially capable of drawing popular support away from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in the countryside. The start of DRV emulation campaigns in 1948 was also linked to the adoption of a more internationalist line by the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP) following the announcement of the Jdanov line in September 1947 opposing an American-led capitalist bloc to the Moscow-led communist one. In the late 1940s, Vietnamese communists used emulation campaigns to mobilize manpower and to generate support for their beleaguered war state. The ICP approved the launching of the first emulation campaign in the spring of 1948. By obligating the people under its military control to participate in these campaigns, the ICP created patriotic competitions (thi dua) in order to encourage the populations to produce more, to support the resistance financially, to associate them with the party’s “just cause” and its mass organizations, to eradicate illiteracy, and to disseminate the debuts of revolutionary ideology. Such patriotic competitions reached down, though not without difficulty, to the district and village levels. They were much more common in northern and central Vietnam, where DRV military control was greater, than in the south where the French military and anti-communist Vietnamese nationalist and religious forces were stronger. During campaigns lasting anywhere from a few weeks to several months, cadres fanned out into villages. Relying upon local mass organizations, such as peasant, women, or youth organizations, they began organizing patriotic competitions. This could include recruiting drives for the local militia or longer lasting campaigns to clear new land and increase agricultural production. However, these early campaigns only produced limited results. In 1952, inspired by Sino-Soviet models and the need to mobilize large numbers of people for modern war, the ICP revamped and relaunched its emulation campaigns in central and northern DRV zones. It was also at this point that class became a major theme in these drives rather than just broad appeals to Vietnamese nationalism. Hoang Dao Thuy, who headed the Vietnamese scouting movement during World War II, was on the central government’s patriotic emulation committee at the outset. See also CHARLES LACHEROY; LAND REFORM; NEW HERO; PSYCHOLGICAL WARFARE; RECTIFICATION; REVOLUTIONARY WARFARE.