Kaysone Phomvihane

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Kaysone Phomvihane in 1978

Kaysone Phomvihane (Laotian: ໄກສອນ ພົມວິຫານ) (born Nguyễn Cai Song, 13 December 1920 – 21 November 1992) was the first leader of the Communist Lao People's Revolutionary Party from 1955 until his death in 1992. After the Communists seized power in the wake of the Laotian Civil War, he was the de facto leader of Laos from 1975 until his death. He served as the first Prime Minister of the Lao People's Democratic Republic from 1975 to 1991 and then as the second President from 1991 to 1992.



Revolution in Laos: Practice and Prospects (1981) (excerpts)



  • The victory of the revolution in Laos and the victories of the fraternal peoples of Vietnam and Kampuchea make up one common victory of truly historic and epoch-making significance. This great victory signifies the failure of the bit­terest counter-offensive of the chief imperialist power against the world revolutionary move­ment since the Second World War, a reduction of the imperialist and expansion of the socialist sphere, a breaching of the positions of American imperialism in an important part of Southeast Asia, and the breakdown of its global counter­revolutionary strategy.
  • We assume that the preliminary conclusions drawn from the Party's experience of applying its strategic line, tactics and revolutionary methods during the long and complicated struggle have practical significance for our revolution at the present stage, that of the consolidation of people's democracy and transition to socialism, and will possibly also contribute to the rich store of experience applying Marxism-Leninism in the revolutions of liberation today.
  • Our fighters, cadres and Party members used the method of "armed propaganda": while hitting the enemy, they carried on propaganda work, forming a mass base and expanding the revolutionary forces in every possible way. As a result, support bases were set up in many parts of the country, where we established revolutionary power and formed popular armed forces together with mass organisations. Gradually, stage by stage, suitable methods were applied to do away with feudal and prefeudal forms of exploitation, and an improvement came about in the material and cultural life of the peasant masses; the unity of all the nationalities grew stronger and stronger.
  • Carefully weigh­ing its forces and the forces of its internal and external enemies, seeing that there were weak spots in the so-called "unimaginable might" of the USA, the Party reaffirmed its view that the revolution would inevitably triumph providing good use was made of the nation's potential, the advantages issuing from military cooperation with the army and people of Vietnam, and the existence of the three revolutionary streams of our time. Hence, the Party chose an offensive strategy and worked out flexible and realistic revolutionary methods and ways of struggle. In view of the new situation, it decided to raise the banner of struggle for national liberation and against American imperialism.
  • Using various revolutionary methods, aware of the reactionary and diehard character of our adversaries, and taking into account the expe­rience of participating in two coalitions, the Party held that the revolutionary violence of the masses was and always had been the basic means of attaining final victory, that the revolutionary strategy must always remain an offensive stra­tegy. This is why the Party considered it its basic task to strengthen and expand the revolutionary forces all round, while at the same time conti­nuing the struggle on the political, legal and diplomatic fronts.
  • Thanks to the Party's realistic rallying slogans, conscious of the dependable backing of the patriotic forces, and having gained a legal basis for struggle, various sections of the population in enemy-controlled areas and in the neutralised cities, especially workers, young people and students, who had long conceived a deep hatred for the thoroughly corrupt bureaucratic and military clique, came into motion, becoming more and more deeply and actively involved in the common struggle.
  • From the day the. revolutionary flag first began to flutter in the Vientiane sky as a symbol of our people's right to independence, to the day when it became the flag of the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, we traversed a difficult path full of ordeals and self-sacrifice. How many selfless heroes laid down their lives for their country, and how much effort and energy was expended, and blood spilt, by the patriots of Laos for the sake of our glorious victory!
  • Our ancestors had to withstand the aggression of 45 feudal states at more or less the same level of socio-economic development as our own. But our latter-day enemies were great imperialist powers with a colossal military and economic potential, a century ahead of us in technology and arma­ments and with a great deal of experience in conducting wars of aggression. The people of Laos, the makers of their history, have never before achieved a victory so splendid, so com­plete and final as that of today. This victory did not just restore the independence of Laos, an independence that had been flouted for more than two hundred years. It also made our multinational people the genuine master of their country after long years of living in slavery, poverty, backwardness and ignorance. They are masters of a country that is now fully independ­ent, free, and on the road to socialism. In our deeply loved motherland, this victory made the cherished hopes and aspirations of the Lao people come true.
  • Our Party's strategic policy was direct­ed precisely to both the national and the demo­cratic objectives, in accordance with the specific features of our country and with the needs of the time.
  • In each historical period, the class which represents the most advanced mode of produc­tion also represents the nation and has the potential to become its standard-bearer. In Europe, for example, the bourgeoisie at one time represented the most advanced mode of production, and therefore carried the banner of national democracy. It headed the bourgeois revolution and, having overthrown the decayed feudal system, set up the capitalist system based on the principles of bourgeois nationalism and democracy. But after capitalism grew into imperialism, the bourgeoisie began to hinder the development of their nations and took to enslaving other peoples, fully losing their leading historical role.
  • The general policy of "raising the banner of national democratic revolution under the leadership of the Party of the working class, and heading to socialism" is, as we see it, not merely the right line for the revolution in Laos, but also fully meets the laws governing the devel­opment of the struggle for national independ­ence and democracy in the modern epoch.
  • When raising the banner of national democ­racy, one must be able to differentiate between strategy and tactics, between the fundamental and the immediate questions. But most impor­tant of all is that one should never, in no cir­cumstances, forget the class essence of the revolution and of its final aims. In some cases, therefore, for tactical reasons at this or that stage, we did not emphasise the leading role of the Party, did not talk about socialism, but instead focussed attention on peace, neutrality, national concord, coalition government, and the like.
  • The alliance of the working class and the peasantry is one of the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism, one of the essential condi­tions of any revolution carried out under the leadership of the working class. The peasantry, comprising the overwhelming majority of the people of Laos, is the direct producer of mate­rial wealth for society. At the same time, it endures tremendous oppression, and thus constitutes an enormous force with a developed revolutionary character and great potential.
  • In a semi-feudal country suffering from colonial oppression, such as Laos, with an insufficiently clear-cut differentiation into classes and with an as yet poorly developed capitalist class and working class, the intermediary forces play a very important role in all spheres of activity, especially the social and the cultural. The position and interests of these strata were encroached upon by the American imperialists and their stooges. Therefore, they developed patriotic and progressive tendencies and in certain conditions demonstrated their ability to accept the line set by our Party in the national democratic revolution.
  • As the revolutionary forces became stronger, as their authority grew and the revolution developed, the alliance of the different forces gave rise to more long-term common aims and tasks. To implement these aims it became necessary to find a form of organised alliance with a corresponding programme which would help coordinate the efforts made and the joint actions, while preserving the independence of each side. At the same time, this enabled us to carry out a policy of "both unity and struggle", indispensable in strengthening and expanding the united front. An even broader united front provided the organisational form necessary for such an alliance.
  • Revolutionary violence is the violence of the masses. The national democratic revolution in Laos was a cause espoused by all patriots and forward-looking people in the country. Thus, the revolutionary violence in Laos was necessarily that of the overwhelming majority of the population, first and foremost that of the working people, who were cruelly exploited. The masses have many ways and means to demonstrate their will and determination to struggle. Generalising the practical experience of the revolutionary struggle, one can say that the violence of the masses takes two forms, those of political and armed struggle, used together and separately. It is thus necessary to set up the means of violence to bring about a revolution, i.e., the political forces of the masses and the armed forces of the people.
  • The political forces of the masses are the forces of all the people taking an organised part in the revolution. They include the revolution­ary classes and the sections of the population with patriotic tendencies, of all different nation­alities, combined in a broad national united front based on the worker-peasant alliance led by the Party.
  • A coordinated armed and political struggle involving the use of two forces of revolutionary violence of the masses was the principal method used during the national democratic revolution in our country. But the revolution, being a long and complex struggle, is inevitably forced to overcome the various obstacles set up by the ruling circles to prevent it reaching its ultimate goal. These circles resort to repression, fraud, corruption and other means in their fight against the revolution. These obstacles cannot be overcome immediately. The revolution is there­fore compelled to change its methods.
  • One can make concessions to the enemy in relation, for instance, to the number of people in the government, as well as to the specific posts, qualifications and certain organisational forms accepted both by the enemy and our­selves.
  • By virtue of the class nature of the struggle during the coalition, the enemy, even though occasionally compelled to take progressive measures in the interests of the popular masses and to give some important posts in the govern­ment bodies to the revolutionary forces, none­theless always left himself the right to actual control over government activities and retained a coercive apparatus so as to overtly and covertly hamper coordinated progressive reforms being put into practice.
  • In our time, a time marking the transition from capitalism to socialism, a time in which a powerful offensive is being launched by the three revolutionary streams of today, the world is constantly witnessing changes of truly histo­rical significance, which highly favour the devel­opment of revolutionary movements in different countries. But could we take advantage of the favourable situation to raise the revolution in our country to a new height? This depended pri­marily on the efforts of our people, and also on the resoluteness and ability of the Party to act speedily and effectively in such situations.
  • Although we took power by means of revo­lutionary violence, at the same time preserv­es peace in the country, this in no way sig­nifies that we shall not resort to force in the future to defend peace. The reactionary classes suffered a serious de­feat, but this does not mean that they simply agreed to retreat and forever abandoned their intentions to fight the revolution, arms in hand.
  • Therefore, now that we have won power, our duty is to consolidate the dictatorship of the pro­letariat with all the available forces, to perfect the instruments of revolutionary violence, to improve vigilance, and to always be prepared to rebuff enemy attempts to sow trouble and start a coun­ter-offensive. Only in this way can we ensure the further peaceful development of the revolution.
  • In Laos, the development of this militant alli­ance has gone hand in hand with the entire revo­lutionary struggle and the growth of our revolu­tionary forces. It caused a radical shift in the ba­lance of power between the opposing forces in our country, creating the conditions necessary for the success of our revolution and its final vic­tory.
  • Our struggle, itself an integral part of the world revolutionary process and taking place at an important time in the history of Southeast Asia, the scene of violent revolutionary upheav­als and conflict between the forces of revolution and the forces of reaction, is a struggle being waged not only on behalf of the people of Laos, but also on behalf of the revolutionary move­ment in the region and throughout the world. Each victory won by our revolution encouraged the popular struggle both in Indochina and throughout the world, contributing to the further consolidation of the socialist system.
  • Political and ideological unity must be rein­forced by organisational unity. Without it, polit­ical and ideological unity loses any practical meaning and cannot survive.
  • Comradely relations based on the common ideals and aims of the difficult struggle we all share are our most sacred posses­sion as Communists.
  • Despite many problems to be resolved, we continue to progress confidently in developing and defending our beloved country, for the path to socialism is already open before us.
  • Inspired by the successes of socialism and faced with the deep and insoluble crisis of capi­talism, millions of workers in capitalist countries are waging a vigorous struggle under the slogan, Peace, Democracy and Social Progress, directing the spearhead of their attack at the reactionary rule of monopoly capital and against the op­pressive and aggressive policies of their leaders.
  • Our Party and people are, therefore, faced with extremely urgent and complex problems. The former modes of production must be trans­formed and new economic relations and division of labour introduced. The material-technical base necessary for economic reconstruction must be laid and the cultural level of the people raised so that our country can advance firmly and rapidly along the road to socialism.
  • The creation in Laos of highly productive so­cialist economy, based on socialist production relations and large-scale industry, entails the for­mation of a large-scale national economy equip­ped with the latest technology, with a well-de­veloped and rationally organised division of soci­al labour, and with a high level of productivity able to promote the continuing expansion of production.
  • Strengthening the unity of all the nationalities and ethnic groups is a task of great strategic im­portance that is decisive for the fate of the revo­lution in our country. We must, therefore, pay more attention to the national question, regard work with different nationalities and ethnic groups as being of crucial importance and take the national question into account in every sphere of activity. Effective steps must be taken to raise the level of political and ideological work among the various nationalities and ethnic groups and to improve education, cultural facili­ties, medical services, develop production and raise the living standards for the different na­tional groups.
  • The work of the people of Laos in defending their country and building socialism will triumph!
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