The Road to Revolution by Ho Chi Minh, translated by VietAnon
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\section{How to organize labor unions}
\subsection{What does a labor union do?}
Organizing the union is first to let the workers go together to have solidarity; second is to study together; third is to improve workers livelihoods; fourth is to protect the rights of workers; fifth is to help the people of the nation, and further help the world.
Solidarity among workers doesn’t mean when A has a wake, then person B comes to eat; or when person B has religious ceremonies and invite person C to drink wine. But a back and forth to teach each other the right thing, to exchange knowledge and experience. Studying is not only exchanging books and newspapers to read; but also have to discuss how to struggle against capitalism and imperialism\footnote{This sentence is understood as follows: research is not only reading from books and newspapers, but also discussing how to fight capitalists and imperialists.}.
Modifying the way of life such as establishing a cooperative, opening a study association, a game association for workers, and so on.
Preserving rights is when the association is already powerful, and demands more wages, less working hours, and so on.
Helping the people of nations and the world is to bring together workers for a revolution to make everyone equal and free like Russian workers have been doing since 1917.
\subsection{How to organize a labor union?}
There are two ways of organizing, the organizing by trade and organizing by production.
Trade organizing whoever does the same trade, then join that certain trade union. Like a tailor joins a tailor’s guild, a blacksmith joins a blacksmithing guild.
Organizing by production is no matter your profession. As long as you work at the same place, you will join the union of that production. Such as in railways, the coal burners, the car painters, the ticket dispensers, the roadkeepers, the train conductors; all enter a railway union.
The organization by production is stronger, because it is more unified. For example, when the railways wants to strike, if the union is production organized, then all members have to strike, further threatening capitalists. If the association is through trades, then sometimes the coal burners go on strike but not but the train conductors, or the the ticket dispensers go on strike but the station workers do not, then the effectiveness of a strike is weakened.
\subsection{Can a worker join two labor unions?}
No. If the association is a trade union then only those of the same profession can enter; those who have already joined the production union are not allowed to join the trade association. For example: the railway have been organized according to production, with all railway workers\footnote{Workers in the railway industry} having already joined that union. In the same land there was another union of carpenters, then carpenters in the railway union\footnote{The sentence is also understood as: the Hanoi Railway Association has entered the General Railway Union can also enter another General Union.} are not allowed to join.
In the same profession or production, it is not allowed to establish two different associations.
However, one union is allowed to enter two federated general unions. For example, the Hanoi Railway Association has joined the Annam Railway Association and can join the general union.
In short, a union is allowed to enter many general guilds, but each person can only join one. If this limit in joining unions isn't strictly followed, it can cause a lot of confusion in organizing.
\subsection{What is the difference between a trade union and a political party?}
The union focuses more on the economic side. The party focuses more on the political side. Anyone who is a worker can join the union, even if they believe in Buddhism, Christianity, communism, anarchism, whatever they believe, as long as they follow the rules of the unions.
% FIXME: there is a footnote in the original text here
In the Party, any person who does any job, a worker or a peasant, a student or a merchant, as long as he believes in the party’s guiding ideology and obeys the party charter, can enter.
Those who join both the party and the association, in politics, are led by the party, and in the economy, by the union. All Party members must join the union to propagate the party's ideology. But not all union members can join the party.
\subsection{What is the structure of a union?}
The system follows horizontal or vertical organization.
Horizontal is for instance each province where there are blacksmiths union, tailors union, carpenters union, masonry union, and so on, all of which are organized into the general union; with every trade union treated as equals.
Vertical is for instance in each district, there is a tailor's association, then the unions of 4, 5 district organize together into a provincial tailor's union, and all tailor unions in several provinces organize into a nationwide tailor's association. It is vertical, that is, from bottom to top.
With both horizontal and vertical organizing, then according to which line of orders should a member operate under? If the relationship is about production, then follow the vertical order. If the relationship is regional, then follow the horizontal order.
\subsection{What should be avoided in order for the unions to endure?}
Once you’re in the union:
\item The regionalism should be removed, that is, do not distinguish between this person being Midlands, the other being Southern, the other being Northern. And it should not be divided into the Annamites, the Chinese or the people of any country. Having the same profession, under a trade union all members are brothers, therefore all must see each other as one family.
\item Men and women must be equal.
\item Don't be a narcissist because of your abilities (1) you are smarter, your salary is higher, but that doesn’t mean you can despise people for being clumsy or earn less money than you.
\item Don't rely on your seniority to rule over others.
\item Don't let capitalists join the unions.
\subsection{How to organize for further consolidation?}
The union is the workers' organization to fight capitalism and imperialism, so the organization must be strict, the command must be swift, and the work must be discreet. To do that, it must be organized like an army.
Soldiers have teams.
Workers must have sub-groups\rfootnote{Sub-groups can be also understood as cells} and branches.
Example: there are 5 textile factories in the province, each factory must have a branch. Each branch is divided into several sub-groups; each branch must elect 3 or 5 people as committee members (most should elect people who have worked in the factories for a long time, who are more experienced) and each sub-group must elect a leader. Each sub-group cannot exceed 10 people.
The sub-group follows the orders of the branch, the branch follow the directions of the provincial union, the provincial unions act according to the National Congress of Unions (1). With such an order, it would be easy for the general union to have several hundred thousand following commands, and to act in unison.
\subsection{What does the sub-group do?}
The tree needs strong roots, likewise the union needs to have many new solid sub-groups. Each sub-group must:
\item Train and critique members;
\item To carry out the assigned tasks ofrom the union;
\item Discussing the union business;
\item Investigate the situation down on the factory floors;
\item Recommend what the union should do;
\item Collect membership fees;
\item Report their deeds to the branch, then let the branch report to the province, and so on.
It is difficult for the branch to start operations and consider all options. Small sub-groups, working close together, knowing each other well, so it is easier to review, train, work and operate easier and faster. This is why sub-groups are so useful. Besides, if the government bans the trade union, but the sub-group is well organized, the union can keep making progress and keep working underground. That's why people call the sub-group the root of all unions.
\subsection{What's the order in the union?}
Sub-groups report to their branch.
If there are many factories in the province, 4 or 5 cell branches organize a set of representative committees (4, 5 factories each elect 1 or 2 people).
The branches report to the province.
Provincial unions report to the National union.
That is the order of organization. As for the authority, for all members to attend the congress, meaning, all members openly discuss the meeting. If there are too many members and it's not convenient to all attend a congress, a few people will elected as representatives to attend the the congress, they are the congress delegations. Whatever the congress decides on, the members of the association must execute. When the congress is over, the executive authority goes to the elected central committee.
Delegates to the provincial congress open once a month. Delegates to the national congress, once a year.
Delegating roles should be given to the average workers, not those who are already in office\footnote{In office: person with important position in the union. It should be understood here that it is not possible to elect people with positions in the feudal colonial government apparatus.} in the union. At the opening of the meeting, the delegates must report the status and opinions of the workers (that is not their own), propose and discuss union actions. After the union congress, they have to go back and report the congress results to the workers.
\subsection{If issues arise, how to solve them?}
From the sub-group to the congress, all follow democratic centralism. That is, if there is any issues that arise, everyone can and must discuss it. When the discussion is over, a vote is held, whichever opinion has more followers is chosen. That is democracy. After casting lots for their candidate, the candidates are assigned to the members of a committee, then all members must follow the orders of committee. That is centralism. For those who do not obey, the members of the committee have the right to punish their insubordination.
If there is an abrupt situation that cannot be voted in time, the committee shall have the right to handle it and then report it back to the rest of the organization.
When encountering very urgent matters, the members of the association are allowed to delegate authority to one person, this person has arbitrary authority, who then\footnote{When the work is done} report to the association.
\subsection{Why do members have to pay membership fees?}
There are costs associated with operating unions, such as rent, pen and ink, etc., which is the regular fee, which all members have to bear. There are also the irregular fees, such as savings during a strike or helping other associations strike, or helping members of the association who have lost their jobs, or doing public works, and so on. If the association doesn't have the money, it can't do it. Therefore, members must \enquote{contribute winds to the storm}.
When the guild has excess money, it is advisable to do these things:
\item Setting up schools for workers;
\item Setting up schools for workers' children and grandchildren;
\item Setting up public libraries;
\item Establishing a hospital for workers;
\item Setting up communal sleeping houses, bathrooms, theaters;
\item Open cooperatives;
\item Organization of arms groups\footnote{Here it can be understood as a worker’s self-defense team.}, youth wings\footnote{An organization of teenagers and children}, and so on. Act according to the situation, do not let capitalism and imperialism pay attention. The union funds must be very transparent, for all members to know. Membership fees should not be too heavy; must follow the workers’ wage.
\subsection{How to organize in secret?}
When the general union is made public, the sub-groups must still stay in secret. When it impossible to go public, we have to act under the names of cooperative, school, or club, etc., to hide in plain sight. In China, in Japan, there are many places where workers set up teahouses as cover, outside they sell confections and water, while inside they work in secret. The workers came in to drink and eat, as well as discuss work; so the spies and infiltrators can't do anything. There are places that uses religious gatherings or festivals, etc. to act as a façade for the unions.
When it's newly built or where there are few workers, strategies must be quickly improvised, not necessarily in the usual way.
In general, the organization of the organizations must be unified, secretive, and strict, in order for the union to be stable.
\section{Organization of peasants}
\subsection{Why organize peasants?}
Our country's economy is not yet developed, out of 100 people, 90 are farmers. But our peasants are very miserable, there is no craft work, the land is not enough to plow, so much so that there is not enough food to eat, no clothes to wear.
Consider the central region, all 5,730,000 people but only about 148,015 samples\rfootnote{A traditional Vietnamese measurement of area, $1\,\textrm{sample} = 5000\,\textrm{m}^2 = {1\over 2}\,\textrm{hectares} = 1{1\over 4}\,\textrm{acres}$.} of fields.
Before 1926, Western plantations occupied 62,000 samples. From 1926 onwards, 175 plantation owning Westerners occupied it all:
1,982 samples in Thanh Hoa,
35,426 samples in Nghe An,
17,076 samples in Nha Trang,
13,474 samples in Phan Thiet,
92,000 samples in Kon Tum,
67,000 samples in Dong Nai.
With this arrangement our people will have no more fields to plow!
\subsection{How do Western plantations occupy the fields?}
They use many methods of aquisitions. As in June 1922\footnote{This number in the original is blurred out.}, 20 Westerners joined together to ask the French Government for 3,000(2) samples each in the six provinces. All of them combined have 60,000 samples. In it, 19 western land owners will sell them all to the most wealthy of them all.
In August 1926, the Eastern - French bank asked for 30,000 samples, on which there were 6 Annam villages. When the bankers owned, he evict our villagers from their land.
Cochinchina was completely occupied by Western plantations with 150,000 acres of good fields in their hands.
Part of the plantation is exploited by the French, the other occupied by the church. The priests waited for the year when the crop failed, loaning money to the peasants. They forced the people to bring the land deeds to them as collateral and collect interests. Because the interests were too high, the peasants could not pay with the next harvest, so the priests could then confiscate the fields\footnote{A form of expropriation of the field to deduct from the loan amount.} and took them as church fields.
\subsection{How does the French government treat\footnote{In policies.} the farmers of An Nam?}
Western capitalists and religious churches have occupied most of the land, and if peasants can keep any piece of land, they will be taxed heavily by the French Government, increasing by the year. From every good sample of field every yearly harvest yields 25 dong, the French take away 2.5 dong of tax, that is, of 10 parts they took 1.
If you calculate all the money to rent for cattle, buy manure, hire farmhands, and pay for food and drink, each acre per year costs about 30 dong. All in all, the peasants lost 5 dong, but the colonial government still squeezed out\footnote{Forcing mandatory pay} 2 and a half dong.
Not only that, our people planted the rice but could not eat it. In the tax season, it is sold to pay taxes. Knowing this, the colonials will buy it cheaply so that it can be transported to other countries and sold every year. The more they carry away, the worse the rice stock, the more people starved.
\subsection{What should be done now?}
The hardships of An Nam peasants are:
\item The field is occupied by the French, not enough to plow.
\item The rice is taken by them as well, not enough to eat.
\item Do more, get less, heavy taxes.
\item More floods, more droughts, more broken dykes, and more crop failures.
\item Destitutions to the point of famines, the point of selling his wife and children, or enslaving themselves like the African people they transported to the New World.
\item Oppressive politics (What political rights do we have?), oppressive culture (How many literate peasants do we have? How many schools in the village?).
If the farmers of Annam want to escape that bitter cycle, they must organize themselves and find a way to liberate themselves.
\subsection{How to organize farmers?}
The organization is roughly as follows:
\item Any man or woman, from smallholder farmers to hired ploughmen, 18 years of age or older, may enter. (Those who are great landowners, secret agents, religious leaders, drunkards, gamblers, and drug addicts\footnote{Addiction to opium} are not allowed to join the association.)
\item Those who enter must volunteer to keep the rules of the association, and must be introduced by existing members.
\item A village that has 3 volunteers joining the association can organize a village branch. If 3 villages have an association, they will organize a general branch, 3 general meetings will organize a district association, 3 districts with an association will organize a provincial association, If 3 provinces have an association, they will organize a national association.
\item The way to open the association, organize the working ministries, elect, propose, settle and report is the same as the union.
\subsection{Should peasants' associations form sub-groups as well?}
The peasantry in the village are not as crowded as the workers in the factories, so the village level associations replaces the sub-groups; the trustee in the committee can substitute for the leader.
The member on one side directs the members to work, the other side executes orders from the superior. One party reports the congress to the members, the other party reports the member's work to the congress.
Members must:
\item Find new members;
\item Investigate the way of doing business and affairs in the village;
\item Initiating cooperatives;
\item Do your best to expand education, such as setting up schools, organizing libraries, etc.;
\item Advise farmers to ban alcohol, drugs and gambling;
\item Set up the relief guilds, and so on.
In short, learn to do things that are useful to the farmers, beneficial to the community (closest meaning is \enquote{the race}).
\subsection{If there is no sub-group, how can one work in secret?}
This is discussing the day to day activities which perhaps can be in public. If it's time to keep a secret, then:
\item One must return to the sub-group method;
\item One must use other aliases, for instance call it the thatcher’s guild, the fishing guild, the communal rice guild, and so on as covers. In An Nam village, there are already many guilds like that. If you want to organize farmers, you should take advantage of those existing guilds according to the circumstances. It's good to make it so that outsiders don't notice your true activities.
When the association is stable and the membership is large, it is advisable to form specialized departments\footnote{Made of experienced people.} such as:
Sports department;
Plowing reforms department\footnote{Farming Improvement department.};
Hired ploughmen department (to plow for hire, with no farms or cattle of their own);
Small owning peasants department;
Artisans department (villagers who do not plow the fields, or plow on a semi regular basis, they must also join the peasant association);
Youth department, women's department, education department, and so on.
\subsection{Even with the peasant associations, have the peasants recovered from the above mentioned hardships?}
Freedom and equality can only be gained through revolutions, the peasant association is a revolutionary foundation of our people. If the workers and the peasants can build solid organizations, then join forces for the revolution, they will be free from these hardships. Although not revolutionary right away, being organized is still beneficial. Like every year the French forces our people to smoke 150 thousand kilos of opium, taking 15 million dong in profit. And they made us buy 173,000,000 liters of liquor, taking 1 billion francs in profit. Not only that they made huge profits, they also poison our people. If the peasants organized and advised each other not to drink alcohol and not to smoke opium, they would have saved our people from destitutions, while preventing those billion francs and 15 millions of dongs to the French.
The French are able to oppress us because we do not love each other, because we are ignorant. When these associations are set up, first there is solidarity, then we can have opportunities to study. If we can begin the cultural \enquote{revolution} and the economic \enquote{revolution}, the political \enquote{revolution} is not far away.
The cooperatives for the most part\footnote{In fact the first cooperative is an English one} were born in England. In 1761, the weavers joined together to form a cooperative for \enquote{fostering high standards in the weaving craft and collective purchase at a fair price for the community}. In 1777, another cooperative was established. After that, many more cooperatives were established, none lasted.
In 1864, a new cooperative was established with only 999 dong of capital. By 1923, this association had 5,673,245 dong in capital and 47,777,000 dong from trade and travel profits, 14 ships, 5,000 samples of tea gardens, 6 deputies serving in the House of Representatives, and 4,580,623 member.
The cooperatives are now largest in Russia, the second to the UK (consumer cooperatives\footnote{Enterprise owned by consumers}), the third to France (producer cooperatives\footnote{Enterprise owned by producers}), the fourth to Denmark (farmer cooperative), the fifth to Germany (cooperative banks\footnote{Otherwise known as credit cooperatives}).
In Japan, there was a cooperative that had only 1,840 dong when it was first established, after 8 years it had 370,000 dong.
Although the way to do it is slightly different, the purpose is the same in every country. For that purpose, in the manifesto of the British cooperative had said: \enquote{The aim is to make the class proletariat brothers. Brothers work for each other, depend on each other. Stop competition. Let those who plant trees eat the fruits they made; whoever wants to eat the fruit, let them go in and plant the trees.}
In the world of robber barons and imperialist\footnote{Age of exploitations}, they spared no methods of exploitations, they took the people's money as tools to oppress the people, they fattened themselves with the people’s labor, likened to \enquote{giving us a taste of our own medicine}. Because of this Cooperatives are first beneficial to the people, then reduce the exploitation power of capitalists and imperialists.
An Nam proverb has the following sentences: \enquote{united we stand, divided we fall} and \enquote{one tree doesn’t amount to much, many trees group together to form a high mountain}. The philosophy of all cooperatives lies in these idioms.
If we stand alone, our strength is small, and no work can be done. For example, if each person builds a pillar and a wall on their own, even a tent would not get built, let alone a house. Grouping those pillars, those walls, and that combined strength, they can together build a mansion for all to live. That is cooperation.
For example 10 people want to eat rice, each person has a separate pot, cooks in a separate kitchen, then eats separately; after eating, everyone cleans up their own, then it is a waste of firewood, water, effort and time. Cooperative is \enquote{putting all rice in the same pot} to save effort and resource, while being a community.
\subsection{How many kinds of cooperatives are there?}
Cooperatives have 4 main forms:
\item Monetary cooperative\footnote{Credit cooperative as above};
\item Consumer cooperative;
\item Retailer cooperatives;
\item Producer cooperatives.
Before specifying what such cooperation is, we must know that:
\item The cooperative is different from the trader’s guild, the profits gained from the guild is for individual members, while the cooperative profits is for the common benefit.
\item Cooperatives are meant to help each other, but they are not like charities. Because those associations spend but don’t earn, and help anyone but have the intention of philanthropy, the cooperative spends and makes benefiting only its members equally. A true \enquote{revolutionary} way motive is where you can hepl while ready to receive help yourself\footnote{Mutual help}.
\subsection{Monetary Cooperative}
Or better known as the people's bank; from the peasants and the workers combined investment:
\item Any member who lacks capital for business (loaning for living costs is prohibited) can come and loan at a light interest rate;
\item If a member has a surplus, they can deposit at this cooperative to gain a profit. People are poor, so those who have enough to contribute is sparse, while loaners are numerous, so how can a cooperative bank be established? To do this, three things must be done:
\item Capital - If each person put in a dong, with 1,000 people gain 1,000 dong. That 1,000 capital, if efficently used might as well equal to 10,000 dong.
\item Circulation - If each person holds their share, that 1,000 will also be wittle away. If you give it out as loans, first month you give A a loan of 100 dong for 6 months; second month you loan to B 100 and so on, the more you move and circulate it, the more interests gained, the more people you help.
\item Credit - Making a name for the cooperative generate trusts\footnote{The more credit you create}, making transactions easier in the long run. So, even with the limited capital, it can be efficent.
\subsection{Consumer cooperative}
Not every households can have enough tools for production, necessitating purchasing. Buying a lot\footnote{Bulk purchases} is cheaper with better quality. While on the other hand retail is expensive with only modest quality. But where do workers and peasants get the money to make wholesale purchase? Even if you can afford it, but a household can’t possibly consume it all. Continuing the suffering losses.
If many households pool their money together, buy wholesale and share, it will be cheap, the product will be in a superior quality without wasting time.
Example: each barrel of kerosene (cost 3 dong, get 50 liters). Traders would dilute\rfootnote{Using water} it into 53 liters. Each household buys a liter and pays a dime\rfootnote{There are ten dimes to a dong}, the oil is spoiled, so it burn out fast. All in all traders can profit by:
1 steel barrel 0đ20
23 liters of diluted oil 2đ30
Summing up in 2đ50
53 houses at a loss: 2đ50 and 53 hours.
If those 53 houses pooled together to send one person to buy a barrel, it would have saved 2d50, and the time that goes with it. Use those 53 hours to do something more productive work.
\subsection{Cooperative retailing}
Buy in bulk is cheaper, while wholesale is expensive. Likewise the more expensive the less you buy, the cheaper it is selling. That is common knowledge. But poor people don't have much to sell. Besides, when they sell their produce on the market no matter the price they have to be sold, else you need storage. Part is the risk of wasting valuable efforts, part is the risk of taxations, part is the risk of spoilage. The merchants can take advantage of this to buy at lower prices.
For example: 53 houses with 53 baskets of rice, hiring 53 people to sell, must pay 53 times the tax; merchants know this so they can bargain for lower prices by 53 cents (one cent per basket). In hot weather, 53 people have to drink 53 cents of water on delivery, and so on. Losing so much more money.
Imagine those 53 households sell using cooperatives, how much profit can be made!
\subsection{Production Cooperative}
This cooperation is to help each other in manufacturing. For example: each peasant owns one cow for their household, each must employ a cowherd, must build a corral\footnote{Cattle pen}, how messy is that? Not to mention the households without cattle for field work, they have to rent it from others. Each household has to buy their own plows, harrows, hoes, sickles, etc., so when they innevitably breaks while you can’t afford replacement you would have to make do. Rather than this, we can just buy these together and pay according to personal usage, wouldn’t that be better?
The same for cotton farming; with no whipping board, no spinning equipment, the cotton must be sold cheap and raw. If you contribute to a cooperative and buy enough things to process it, the work can be reduced while gaining much more.
In short, cooperatives are very beneficial, so people frequently set them up in different countries. The merchants are rich, from their exploitations of workers. Cooperative is protection against the excess of capitalist merchants.
\subsection{How merchants make their profits?}
The trader makes a profit because the producers and consumers, the buyers and the sellers are separated by distance, so they had to use the merchants as middlemen, giving them profits on both ends. For example: in the North is a country that grows tea, in the South is a tea drinker. But the North people do not bring tea to the South to sell, nor the people of the South go to the North to buy.
Some tea planetrs has to sell to A, the village tea supplier; who sell it back to B, the region tea supplier, taking a cut of profits. B sell it to city C in the province, taking another cut. C sell to D a Hanoi company, profiting three times. Company D sell to Company E in Saigon, profiting four times. Company E sold again to wholesalers F in the provinces, making a profit five times. Trader F sells wholesale to the G city in another province, making a profit six times. G retails to H, makes a profit seven times. H retail for drinkers, profiting eight times.
So the tea maker loses, the tea drinker also loses. If there is a cooperative, we can avoid those things.
\subsection{How to organize cooperatives?}
Not every village has to set up a cooperative. Nor does every village have to set up multiple cooperatives. Nor can there be one cooperative, preventing the establishment of another. It just depends on the circumstances where any cooperative can be established, and sometimes two cooperatives - buying and selling - can also be established together.
If many places have established the same form of cooperative, then those cooperatives should contact each other, multiplying purchasing power. Or when two cooperatives are of different forms, then they should also be linked into chains, like a consumer cooperative and a retailer cooperative.
Cooperatives only benefit members, only members have the right to operate, but in technical aspects such as calculating, quality inspections, machinery operations, etc., are allowed to hire outsiders.
Having joined the association, anyone who contributes more or less, before and after, everyone is equal.