Then Fa Ngum marched his armies south to subdue the lord of Vientiane and other muang down along the Mekong River as far as Nakhon Phanom. It also paid tribute to Hue, which asserted its right to a role in Phuan affairs. Most of the Issara luminaries had returned and been reintegrated into society; the government and the Lao leaders, still with considerable French collaboration, set about constructing the new state. Souvanna already had a Luang Phrabang princess as a wife, but she refused to follow him to Vientiane where he had taken up work as a government engineer after his studies in France. Prince Phetsarath, who came originally from Luang Phrabang, and through his many years in Vientiane had become the highest ranking Lao in the French administration, became Prime Minister. On their way the Tai may also have encountered a Mon-Khmer chieftainship on the Plain of Jars. The ignominious flight of the Siamese commissioner and his garrison demonstrated the relative weakness of Siamese power in the region.
The colonial administration In 1893 Laos was incorporated as one of the five associated regions of Indochina, along with Cambodia and Tonkin, Annam and Cochinchina in Vietnam. It takes men from agriculture and industry. This was a source of considerable anxiety for the Siamese. The construction of dams and irrigation networks was left to local communities. This structure of similar segments could be galvanised into action in times of war, or might disintegrate quickly as new alliances formed.
Graham Greene, the author of the acclaimed novel on Vietnam, The Quiet American, made a short visit to Vientiane in January 1954. In the following pages I have tried to give some sense of the way Lao culture confronted and grappled with the dilemmas of social and political change. This is a logical solution to a linguistic problem within most European languages. General Ouan Rathikhoun, who was close to the King, took over as Commander-in-Chief of the army, but the compromise was that regional commanders ran their regions with as little interference from the centre as possible. If you want to dip into the history of Laos this book could certainly take you there.
Only occasionally were strong cultural differences encountered, and only occasionally did they inhibit interaction. In the cities of Laos distrust became endemic between Lao and Vietnamese. As late as 1900 the French state still faced rebellions in these mountains. They adopted aspects of Sinitic belief; their aristocrats in particular were incorporated into these states as vassals and began to adopt their dress styles. In August 1950 these leftist nationalists and newly recruited communists, numbering around 100 in all, were formed into a new organisation, the Neo Lao Issara the Lao Freedom Front , which in turn became the kernel of the Lao Communist Party, established in 1955. He probably used his Vietnamese name as a matter of course, and was indistinguishable from other Vietnamese. In March 1957 Prince Phetsarath returned from ten years of exile in Thailand.
The founder of Lan Xang, Fa Ngum, had been exiled to Angkor along with his father after the latter had seduced one of the minor wives of the chao muang, the lord, of Luang Phrabang. It enriches a minority outrageously while the mass of the population remains as poor as ever. Phoumi therefore flew from Luang Phrabang to Bangkok for consultations with Sarit, and then to his home town of Savannakhet to organise opposition to the coup. The sakdi na administrative system pioneered by Ayudhya was taken over by the Chakri dynasty and strengthened. Because of his rank, the Crown Prince is not at government level.
They were backed by the North Vietnamese who, determined to use trails through Laos to infiltrate into South Vietnam, ignored Lao desires for neutrality. The French, however, also began to see the need for Lao who were willing to save themselves. Kings would sponsor the construction of stupas and temples in outer regions as physical expressions of this sacred power and link them through ceremonial to the rituals of the centre. Generally, however, the structure of the Leninist party kept phu nyai posturing under control. Recent historiography has come to appreciate the complexity of colonialism as both a cultural and social phenomenon as well as a political and economic one. Upon hearing voices from within the gourd the khun pierce it.
Furthermore, with the communist revolutions in China and North Vietnam, they were made brutally aware of their political vulnerability. This was the stuff out of which an ethnic consciousness could be formed, but that still lay in the future. In the previous century Ayudhya had begun a crucial process of bureaucratic centralisation, which accelerated in the sixteenth century. However, as these long-standing abuses were now conducted in the name of the colonial administration, the French were now accorded a share of any resentment on the part of rural Lao. His peroration, accompanied by clumsy gestures, spoke of the necessity for continuous struggle to achieve a united, peaceful, and independent Laos. Unlike the Thai peasantry of the Chao Phraya valley, the lowland Lao had not become drawn into significant commercial production of rice, or indeed any other crop.
To the east, Vietnamese power had grown in Cambodia. American reactions to the coup were split. The locale of his exile was indicative of the continuing political sway of Angkor in the region. Members of the royal family were taken as hostages, along with their palladiums the Phra Keo and the Phra Bang which had been moved to Vientiane in 1705 , while thousands of families were relocated to Saraburi, 120 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, as royal kha. Nevertheless, their propaganda did influence that of the Lao Issara.