in The unimagined community
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The conclusion explores the broader implications of the book’s principal thesis in terms of rethinking the historiography on the Vietnam War, as well as the history of communism, capitalism, democracy and imperialism. If the war, in its early phase, was not a conflict between communism and democracy, but a contest between two different forms of anti-colonialist communism, then the South Vietnamese state was simply a failed experiment in liberal democracy, as it has often been characterized. Instead, the conclusion contends that the project of the First Republic could perhaps be better described as an aborted attempt to establish an alternative version of communism. If this project was ultimately compromised by its complicity with US imperialism, its Personalist ideology, nevertheless, was perhaps more radical than that of the Vietnamese Communist Party in its critique of capitalism and bourgeois democracy. Whereas the early Republic was undermined with the aid of US officials, who denounced its lack of democracy, the Party, after winning the war, would employ the power of the communist state to implement a program of capitalist modernization.

The unimagined community

Imperialism and culture in South Vietnam


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