Word Count: 1997
To what extent was Pol Pot’s regime between the period of 1975-1979 successfully implemented?
Pol Pot was the head of the Khmer Rouge that seized power of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 leaving behind the catastrophic remnants of their reign in the years to come. Pol Pot was inspired by the writings of communist philosopher Karl Marx and based his regime and policies around his famous political manuscript “The Communist Manifesto”. His writing stressed the importance of equality, harmony and justice in society and drew attention to the class struggle. Pol Pot wanted to eliminate American imperialism and capitalism from Cambodia and return it to its former glory as a social agrarian state that would be and completely self sufficient, this policy however was met with many obstacles as the state struggled to meet food requirements. The regime also looked to eliminate class hierarchy from Cambodian society and succeeded to a moderate extent through establishing a uniform peasant class. The Khmer Rouge regime was based around the elimination of their enemies, through mass genocide the party were able to prevent any enemy infiltration however at the cost of many innocent civilians lives. The regime also aimed to completely reform the education and healthcare system in Cambodia to become self-reliant and reeducate students to be dedicated in the state and have an advanced knowledge of science and technology.
To a moderate extent Pol Pot’s regime was unsuccessfully implemented, as his agrarian reform could not fulfill the party’s principle of “self reliance”. A major part of Pol Pot’s regime was to implement an agrarian reform that would act as the “basic factor… to build industry” and transform Cambodia into “modernized state”. Pol Pot was motivated to turn Cambodia into an agricultural super state that would produce the nations entire food and natural resources requirements, to support the party’s ideals of “independence, self reliance and sovereignty”. On April 17th 1975, Pol Pot declared all of Cambodia’s cities and towns be evacuated and all belongings be left behind, as people were forced to march into the countryside. All previous city dwellers were resettled in collective farms across the countryside and forced to work alongside the peasants who were referred to as the “base people” by the Khmer Rouge. Ultimately Cambodia had turned into a gigantic workshop where all people were forced to work long hours in order to transform Cambodia into an agrarian super state. “Each person had to dig and carry 2.5 cubic metres per day” to help fulfill the nations food requirements and grow rice that was to be sent to the state for redistribution. According to Pol Pot’s speech in 1977 this was extremely successful part of the plan as “enough food was provided to the people” in accordance to “tens of thousands of rice” being exported and used for capital growth. Although in the official speech states the nation’s prosperity, people were in fact suffering severe malnourishment due to the small rations of rice offered to the people by the government. Each person was given a “single Nestle condensed milk can worth of rice a day”, to subsist for fourteen hour, labour intensive days. This outcome did not align with the regime’s ultimate goal of “independence and self-reliance” as they struggled to meet the people’s food requirements. Although people were struggling with starvation the government continued with rice exports, in 1978 state officials claimed Cambodia had exported 100,000 tons of rice around the world, earning approximately U.S $100 million, well below the government’s target of $250 million. Thus proving that although the Khmer Rouge had successfully set up collective farms and created the foundations for an agrarian super state, they were ultimately unsuccessful as they could not sufficiently feed their...