Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, better known as W.E.B Dubois, was an author, writer, Pan-Africanist, etc. Dubois is well known for transforming the way that black lives are seen in America today, as an activist and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese communist leader who spoke out about Vietnamese independence and was known to be very against European colonial rule in his country and was also not very fond of the United States aggression. Both W.E.B Dubois and Ho Chi Minh had a common stance on their thoughts about the empire and their ideas were very similar, in aspect, of who they thought should replace the European Colonial Rule.
W.E.B Dubois believed that the primary stance of imperialism in Africa, put upon the continent by America and Europe, was very much for economic reasons. Africa was the primary “hub” for most of the products being put into trade. “Due to this investment there were exported annually from Africa, just before the present war, seven hundred million dollars’ worth of products.” (Dubois) The monopoly of trade in Africa went from slave labor to the trade of raw materials which led him to this belief of the economic profit for North America and Europe, they were now gaining higher monetary benefits than ever before. Dubois described Europe as the “slave-trading nation” in the eighteenth century. In the 19th century Europe flipped and seemed as the “emancipator” in Dubois’ words.
During the 19th century England seemed to abolish slavery in their territory and garnered Africa to be its own nation if trade remained free between the nations. Dubois being a Pan-Africanist, meaning in simpler terms “All of Africa for Africa”, felt that this came with greater reasoning, such as the return of investment on slaves not equaling out for Europe, Napoleon’s interference during this time period, the sugar economy dropping substantially, etc. All these factors had a huge impact on Europe’s decision to let Africa, in more ways than one, do its own thing as a free nation, ideally. With this came Europe’s sense of a ‘Mother Country” having colonies throughout Africa causing no real unity within the country. Africa developed culturally very different throughout due to England having colonies, France having colonies, etc. There was no real psychical or cultural unity throughout.
In the article the main question proposed by Dubois was whether this should be for “European Profit or Negro Development”, this being the development of Africa after the war. This was an important question for him to consider because it would, in the end, immensely affect the many people to come. Dubois believed in order to gain world piece “that it is necessary to renounce the assumption that there are a few large groups of mankind called races, with hereditary differences shown by color, hair and measurements of the bony skeleton which fix forever their relations to each other and indicate the possibilities of their individual members.” (Dubois) Thus meaning we must join together and not only focus on the differences between us, but instead prioritize the similarities and see each other as equals, no one being placed higher than the other due to something made to separate and diminish equality such as race.
Ho Chi Minh believed heavily in the independence for the Vietnamese people and was very outspoken about it during the World War when he lived in France. He eventually announced the creation of a Democratic Republic of Vietnam, but was it was quickly shot down by France who only wanted to re-take control of Vietnam. They came to an agreement of a certain quantity of French troops to be in Vietnam for 5 year, but south Vietnam would be left out of being recognized as its on republic. Ho Chi Minh was of course dissatisfied with this and surprisingly so were the French. This only led to fighting between Vietnam and France, which Vietnam ultimately won and garnered Vietnam the independence he so badly wanted for the republic. This was also later soiled when the U.S. took over the south of Vietnam by never signing a treaty to have peace, the same treaty that France signed to garner Vietnam their independence.
After the war, Ho Chi Minh wanted Vietnam to be organized into Communism, but he often made his communism flexible and more into nationalism. He flexed this in order to suit his needs and wants for the new nation to come. The Cold War heavily influenced Ho Chi Minh into his communist beliefs and for the independence of Vietnam. The colonialist in Africa and the Middle East heavily influenced his beliefs as well seeing the very strong divide it was making, especially in Africa being that there was no unity throughout Africa, culturally or psychically. He was also very intrigued by the Irish struggle for liberation from the British Colonial rule, when in England. These instances only made him more serious about his approach to how he would approach his attempt to lead the country in the path to independence and liberation, which was never going to be an easy feat.
Ho Chi Minh viewed the decolonization of Vietnam from England/Europe as a great thing. In his time as leader he was able to seize power and gained the country’s independence, something he was very outspoken about doing in his time and well before his time as the country’s leader. There was tension between the two divisions in Vietnam, with the U.S. supporting south Vietnam’s anti-communist beliefs against the Democratic Republic of Vietnams strong communistic beliefs, led by Ho Chi Minh. This led to more conflict now not only with the United States, but also with South Vietnam, thus only furthering the divide in the country.
W.E.B. Dubois and Ho Chi Minh didn’t share the same beliefs, but they shared the same ideology of what they would like for their respective countries after decolonizing from Europe and the United States. Many other newly independent states thought the same, as presented during The Bandung Conference. During this conference, newly independent nation states discussed peace and the role of the “third world” in the war, decolonization, etc. In this meeting, there were many nations that wanted to stay completely neutral during the war and they were subsequently put in the Non-Alignment Movement. This movement was just as stated, a bunch of new states not wanting to align with either side, the U.S. or Europe. The nations that were non-aligned included: Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
During the Bandung Conference, most of the nations had the same ideology, one of complete independence from the U.S. and Europe. “The core principles of the Bandung Conference were political self-determination, mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, and equality. These issues were of central importance to all participants in the conference, most of which had recently emerged from colonial rule.” (U.S.) Every nation in the Bandung conference were completely set on becoming independent and not interfering with foreign and internal affairs in other countries and didn’t want to have other countries meddle in their internal affairs either. They did not like the imperialistic aggressions constantly being spewed out of the United States and Europe and forced upon them. They then sought to challenge two of the most powerful nations in the world, then and now.
W.E.B Dubois and Ho Chi Minh have various similar points on who should rule after the decolonization of their respective countries; however, they do contrast on a few different points of interest for their countries and the way their country should rule after becoming independent. While Ho Chi Minh was very much for Vietnam becoming Communist but being very willing to become flexible and taking from Nationalism, granted just to suit his needs and wants for his country, W.E.B Dubois was very dead set in Africa becoming Unified and Independent and not wavering in their beliefs. Dubois was also not a leader in Africa, but he was a very strong and outspoken activist who co-founded the NAACP, which later paved the way for Africans and black citizens in America. He wanted everyone in Africa to be for Africa and not to settle and put other nations before their own, they needed to be for them in order to help others. Africa was already so divided with Europe and France having colonies throughout, that they were already developing culturally, very different and had no true commonalities. This can be seen today with many parts of Africa being so different culturally, many of the states have no real similarities.
The bigger significance of this liberation and independence gained by many of these nations is that these nations were able to gain independence and decolonize from Europe and the United States. Even though after they were colonized European powers still were able to dominate the economic affairs of those who were formerly colonized underneath Europe, such as former colonies being forced to produce cash crops for Europe’s gain. Even with the dominance still being very prevalent, they were able to steadfastly grow their own empire and gain unity throughout their own respective countries and give rise to natives who had beforehand been labeled as beneath Europeans.
In the end, W.E.B Dubois and Ho Chi Minh both had very similar stances on how they felt about imperialism and the empire that consumed their time. They both were very strong and outspoken activists for their respective countries and sought to see to it that they would spread the word that there should be independence in their nations and that European colonial rule should end. They felt that the empire and imperialism were both very negatively impacting the society and culture in their countries and were not for the best interests of their respective countries, Africa and Vietnam. They sought to get the best for their countries and the citizens of their country. W.E.B Dubois wanted the best for Africa and its citizens. He wanted more unity culturally and the ability to have commonalities with those who reside in the same country. Ho Chi Minh also wanted the best for the citizens of the country he led, he wouldn’t let the aggressors over power and take advantage of the people who resided in Vietnam. Minh wouldn’t let them take over, but he also made a point to address the strength and resilience of the Vietnamese people, they wouldn’t take no for an answer and would not go down without a fight.
Ho Chi Minh and Dubois ultimately gained the independence and liberation they strived so hard for. They did not let the much larger nations suppress their nation to be and hold them under the reigns of the colonial rule. Both men’s views of imperialism and the empire was maintained throughout this time and were both on a similar understanding that the people of each respective country should rule and that there shouldn’t be just two or three country’s extending their power and influence throughout the world through military force and devastation.