Vietnamese Nationalism and French Colonialism

Vietnam has a history of being dominated by foreign powers. However in all circumstances and against all odds they have managed to overthrow these powers, driving them back from whence they came. The extraordinary feats accomplished by this relatively small and primitive country can be derived from a strong sense of nationalism. Nationalism, in this sense is a bond that one establishes with their country, believing it to be of importance, and worth fighting for. The Vietnamese developed their sense of nationalism over many years and originated from their traditional farming techniques.

The Vietnamese originally came out of China as early as 300 B.C, and migrated south into the Red River Delta near the coast. From China they brought their basic economy of wet rice farming which required co-operative labour to help with the ploughing, flooding, planting, and harvesting. The Red River Delta frequently flooded, depositing rich, fertile land periodically. The flooding river also provided the ‘wet’ bit in wet rice farming. As a result many, small, scattered, and communal villages emerged along the Delta. This independent village system became a part of Vietnamese society. Neighbouring villages would often link with each other to repel the frequent foreign invaders and as a result the Vietnamese peasants developed a strong sense of national identity.

Starting in 111 B.C the Chinese dominated the country of Vietnam for nearly 1000 years. They influenced Vietnamese culture in many ways, most importantly by introducing their philosophy of Confucianism. This philosophy underlined certain cultural ideas and values such as respect for authority, duty to the family, and a desire for learning. The system of Confucianism also introduced the idea of a government with a complex bureaucracy. This philosophy is important in understanding the roots of Vietnamese nationalism because it shows us the values the majority of the people would have held.   The Vietnamese people resented...