Lao People’s Democratic Republic

(LPDR)
   Following in the wake of newly created Marxist governments in Vietnam and Kampuchea, the 1975 overthrow of the royalist Laotian government of King Savangatthana saw the communist Pathet Lao movement take power and pronounce the birth of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. It remains, if only in name, one of the few existing communist states on earth. On gaining control, the Pathet Lao transformed themselves into the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) under the guidance of General Secretary and Prime Minister Kaison Phomvihan, and the inaugural president, Suphanouvong. They constructed a system of government akin to that of the Soviet Union, with a dominant nine-member Politburo, chosen by a Central Committee, determining party and accordingly government policy.
   The initial direction the LPRP took borrowed heavily from Stalinist Soviet politics too, with overbearing party cadres enforcing strict bureaucratic control, limited travel for nationals, state scrutiny of individual conduct, and a propaganda onslaught that included the staging of political education seminars. The LPRP maintained a solid friendship with neighboring Vietnam, as codified in the 1977 25-year Treaty of Friendship between the two. The LPRP borrowed many characteristics of the Vietnamese Communist Party, which in turn was able to exercise considerable authority over the course of Laotian party, military and economic affairs.
   By 1979 the LPRP government, driven by a chronic food shortage and the flight to Thailand of thousands of Laotians, diluted its orthodox MarxistLeninist standpoint in favor of a more liberal approach. Private enterprise in agriculture was legalized and encouraged, and social policies were reformed. The 1980s saw further departures from orthodoxy: economic restrictions were loosened further and market solutions were introduced, state control over nationalized industry relaxed and collectivization abandoned entirely. However, the LPRP leadership refused steadfastly to embrace Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost program, determined that their unyielding grip on politics and society should remain intact and free from the threats posed by a free press and political pluralism. By the end of 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union and Vietnam’s increasingly inward looking status allowed the Laotian administration the opportunity to further relinquish their commitment to Marxism. Under the guidance of Nuhak Phumsavan and then Khamtai Siphandon, economic Marxism was jettisoned and free market capitalism encouraged. Siphandon, elected to serve a third term as president and party leader in 2001, has continued and accentuated this policy with the courting of International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans. The chief legacy of Marxism in the LPDR has been the sole-party status achieved by the resolutely unshakeable LPRP, whose tight control of dissent has continued long after that of the communist parties of the Soviet Bloc withered.
   The LPRP hold on power has been historically justified by their dedication to democratic centralism. This was first professed as part of the revolutionary Marxism they espoused when they assumed power in 1975, a Marxism that sought to create a “new socialist society and socialist man” through a fervent allegiance to orthodox ideology. Yet by the 1980s this adherence to orthodoxy was waning, and the Marxist–Leninist rhetoric emanating from the ranks of the LPRP did little to disguise their move toward a liberal capitalist approach to the economy. This was justified, the party hierarchy stressed, by the necessity to pass through a stage of “state capitalism.” The LPRP similarly vindicated their implementation of perestroika by suggesting it was as a means of adhering to Vladimir Ilich Lenin’s New Economic Policy. By the 1990s, though, there was little disguising the fact that the regime had turned its back on Marxism almost entirely, with the retention of exclusive power by the LPRP the only tenet of the ideological militancy of the 1970s remaining.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lao People's Democratic Republic — noun a mountainous landlocked communist state in southeastern Asia; achieved independence from France in 1949 • Syn: ↑Laos • Derivationally related forms: ↑Laotian (for: ↑Laos) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑Asian country, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Lao People's Democratic Republic — noun The Official name of Laos …   Wiktionary

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  • Lao People’s Revolutionary Party — (LPRP)    The successor to the Lao People’s Party (Phak Paxaxon Lao) formed in 1955, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (Phak Paxaxon Pativat Lao) was linked to the Vietnamese Communist Party and its predecessor the Indochinese Communist Party …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

  • Lao People's Revolutionary Party — Infobox Political party name english = Lao People s Revolutionary Party name native = ພັກປະຊາຊົນປະຕິວັດລາວPhak Pasason Pativat Lao logo = leader = Choummaly Sayasone president = chairperson = spokesperson = leader1 name = leader2 name = leader3… …   Wikipedia

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  • republic — /ri pub lik/, n. 1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. 2. any body of persons viewed as a commonwealth. 3. a state in which… …   Universalium

  • democratic — democratically, adv. /dem euh krat ik/, adj. 1. pertaining to or of the nature of democracy or a democracy. 2. pertaining to or characterized by the principle of political or social equality for all: democratic treatment. 3. advocating or… …   Universalium

  • people — peopleless, adj. peopler, n. /pee peuhl/, n., pl. peoples for 4, v., peopled, peopling. n. 1. persons indefinitely or collectively; persons in general: to find it easy to talk to people; What will people think? 2. persons, whether men, women, or… …   Universalium

  • Lao — /low/, n., pl. Laos /lowz/, (esp. collectively) Lao for 1. 1. a member of a people of Laos and northern Thailand. 2. the language of these people, belonging to the Thai group of languages. * * * (as used in expressions) Lao People s Democratic… …   Universalium

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