Vietnam Table of Contents
Massive relocation of the population, blandly called the "state redistribution of labor" program, began after reunification in 1976 and has been an integral part of the security effort. At least 5 million people have been uprooted in this process, known as "breaking the machine." While partly economic in its motivation, the relocation's main purpose has been to break up the existing social structure. In assigning individuals to new economic zones, for instance, care has been taken to scatter those from a single urban area or village to separate locations. The formation of new associations by these people was then supervised by the VCP, which used various mass movements and proletarian social organizations--augmented by communication and education programs intended to raise class consciousness--to help foster class struggle and to turn the middle and upper classes into social pariahs. This social ostracism was one of the reasons that many middle-class Vietnamese left the South after 1975 as "boat people" (see Glossary).
Data as of December 1987