Building Vietnamese culture in the light of the Platform for National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (supplemented and developed, 2011)

Socialism construction reality Monday, 20:24 19-04-2021
Communist Review - The lines to build an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity are clearly affirmed by the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) in the Platform for National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (supplemented, developed 2011). Over ten years of building such a culture in the light of the 2011 Platform, Viet Nam has made comprehensive achievements in terms of both theory and practice, which will be discussed in this article.

CPV’s new perceptions of culture and people

The 6th Congress of the CPV is said to embark the innovational works (or doi moi), whereas the 7th Congress, with the approval of the Platform for National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (hereinafter referred to as the 1991 Platform), has planned the CPV's lines on national construction and development in the new period, including the culture. On the basis of "an advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity" identified as one of the six features of the socialist model in Viet Nam, the 1991 Platform points out the basic content and direction on the nation’s cultural construction and development with a view to "creating a noble, rich, and diverse spiritual life together with humanitarian, democratic and progressive values".

After 20 years of implementing the 1991 Platform, the 11th Party Congress reviewed the great results and limitations, difficulties as well as problems to be resolved. Based on the lessons learnt from that period, the CPV has gained various new theoretical insights regarded as the basis for supplementing and developing the 2011 Platform. In the cultural field, from a consistent viewpoint of "an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity, unified in diversity, deeply imbued with humanistic, democratic and progressive spirits”, the 2011 Platform and Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW dated June 9, 2014, the 9th Conference of the 11th Party’s Central Committee on building and developing Vietnamese culture and people to meet sustainable requirements of the national development (Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW) continued to clear the content, nature, role, and importance of culture as well as the relationship between culture and people as well as other aspects of social life.

In the renewed lines on national construction and development, the CPV identified the three most important pillars, with the Party building as the core, the socio-economic development as the center, and building culture as spiritual foundations of the society. On that basis, the 2011 Platform emphasized the importance of culture as not only "solid spiritual foundations" of the society, but also "important internal strengths for development". It is a culture that develops harmoniously, inherits and promotes the nation’s unique traditions, and at the same time absorbs the cultural quintessence of mankind imbued with human values, democracy, honors human beauty and dignity, shows great courage, fights the evil, the vile and the harmful cultural practices. Considering culture as "internal strengths", a vital condition to ensure the sustainable national construction and development, national defence, preserve revolutionary achievements, realise the goal of rich people, a powerful, democratic, just, and civilized country, is a new perception of cultural role. That perception stems from the revolution’s vivid reality to realize the nature of culture, clearly see culture as soft power as it can turn spiritual strengths into material ones, and multiply material strengths to promote social development. As President Ho Chi Minh said, culture is a guiding force for each person and the whole nation as it must light the way. Culture also leads the nation to demonstrate its independence, self-reliance and self-control.

In the direction of the lines, Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW states that "Culture must be placed on a par with economy, politics and society". This requirement is attributed to the perception of the nature and importance of culture as well as the national renovation, construction and development. In fact, though the achievements made in Viet Nam's politics, economy, national defense, security, and foreign relations are significant, the ones in culture are "inadequate" and do not meet the requirement with culture as "spiritual foundations" for the national development. Cultural limitations are reflected in many aspects, ranging from ethics, lifestyles, cultural environment, cultural infrastructure, to cultural life, cultural management and education, communication culture, quality of cultural and artistic works, etc. Those limitations are due to the inadequate perception of culture which has a bias in favour of politics, economics and other fields, without attaching proper importance to culture, finding positive solutions and effective measures, or investing enough resources into national cultural building and development.

The 2011 Platform also took an important step in the perception of people, which is the consistent inheritance and creation of the CPV’s right, humanistic perceptions of people, reflected in the purpose of the revolution launched and led by the CPV itself for human liberation and the happiness of Vietnamese people. To achieve the most common goal, however, it is necessary to grasp the nature and requirements of the people issue, the interrelation between people and culture as well as other aspects under the influence of specific conditions. During the time when Viet Nam lost its independence, President Ho Chi Minh wished and set a specific goal for the national revolution, that is: "Viet Nam will gain complete independence, the people of Viet Nam will be completely free, everyone will have food to eat, clothes to wear, and chances to study”(1). Since the doi moi process made historic achievements with the people's material life improved and the country’s international integration becoming more intensive, the issue of people has got more comprehensive and intensive attention from the CPV. Accordingly, the 2011 Platform affirms: “People are the center of the development strategy and the subject of development”. Furthermore, the 12th Party Congress affirms: “Equipping Vietnamese people with qualities to develop comprehensively must become a goal in the development strategy”. Regarding humans as a decisive factor, a goal of development, the "performer", and the most important resource of development, Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW issued a guiding viewpoint: “Harmoniously developing economy and culture; paying adequate attention to cultural and human factors in economic development”. The 2011 Platform also required more comprehensive and adequate attention to people regarding material and spiritual life, chance and ability for comprehensive development, insurance of their legitimate rights and interests together with social responsibilities and civic duties. The whole social development is for "the right interests and dignity of people with increasingly high intellectual, moral, physical and aesthetic levels", human rights respected and protected in a close relationship with "national rights and interests and the people's mastership". That perception also inherited and followed President Ho Chi Minh's point of view, that is "Using the talent, the power, and the property of the people to benefit the people"(2), based on "full enlightenment and creative working of tens of millions of people”(3) to build socialism.               

The 2011 Platform’s perception of culture is put in the interrelation with people who are the main player in culture. On the other hand, building culture is to serve people and their development. It is affirmed by Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW that “Developing culture is for the perfection of human personality and educating people is for cultural development”. In the reverse direction, human development is influenced by culture such as family culture, community culture, political culture, economic culture all of which make up a living environment and have a daily and even hourly impact on the formation of human lifestyles, personality and dignity. Consequently, the 2011 Platform issued measures ‘to build an advanced culture imbued with national identity’, closely related with ‘educating people, improving their living standards, exercising social progress and justice’. In order to realize the 2011 Platform,  Resolution No. 33-NQ/TW emphasized the demand for ‘educating the Vietnamese people for comprehensive development, with focus on cultivating their patriotism, national pride, ethics, lifestyles, and personality’ together with ‘integrating cultural, educational, and scientific activities into equipping people with a science-based world outlook, towards the truth, the goodness, and the fineness’. In the process, education plays a specially important role directly contributing to human development and should be one step ahead, which also explains the reason why the CPV plans a fundamental and comprehensive reform of education and training, development of human resources, especially high-quality ones.

Reviewing the 2011 Platform, it can be said that the CPV’s new perception of culture is mainly reflected in a more comprehensive assessment of the role and position of culture in social life and in the correlation with other aspects; a better and more complete understanding of issues of human development in their close relationship with culture. This new perception is the inheritance and creative development of the CPV's fundamental views and lines on culture in the present context when the country has changed remarkably and its people's lives have improved significantly, which serves as the basis for the Party and the State of Viet Nam to set out and organize the implementation of many specific guidelines and policies, bringing about great results in cultural building and human development.

Great results on cultural building over the past 10 years

Over the past 10 years, the 2011 Platform has brought about significant changes in cultural life and human education in Viet Nam. Generations of Vietnamese people, from the ones born and matured in revolutionary struggles to those born and grown up in the peace time, have linked good traditions, exploited their intelligence, talent, dynamism, creativity, mastering many scientific and technological advances, quickly adapting to the new economic mechanism, overcoming difficulties and challenges, as well as building the country together. The country’s fortune and appearance, international position, and wide relationships with other countries in the world today vividly show spirit, strength and developmental aspirations of Vietnamese culture and people. Those results are inevitable thanks to the changed awareness, the renewal of the Party's guidelines and the State's policies, which is creating increasingly better and more favorable conditions for the comprehensive development of Vietnamese culture and people.

First and foremost, the mechanism to guarantee legitimate rights and interests, human development is increasingly perfected basing on the principle of "demonstrating social progress and justice in every step and every development policy". The 2013 Constitution institutionalized rights and conditions to ensure the people’s legitimate interests. Creations and amendment to many codes and laws are related to the freedom to create, popularize cultural and artistic values; the freedom and responsibility in press and communications; the right to freedom of beliefs, religions, non-beliefs, and non-religions; the right to access information and practice democracy. Economic development projects are assessed not only for their environmental impact, but also their capacity to fully meet the requirements of ensuring life improvement for the people involved.

The great achievements in the process of renovating the national construction and development, accelerating industrialization and modernization have helped raise the material life constantly regarded as a fundamental condition to ensure for the development of Vietnamese people. The country’s average income per capita in 2020 has increased by more than twice compared to the figure of 2010(4). The State’s investment in mountainous, remote and isolated areas, especially in terms of transport and educational infrastructures, has received more attention. In 2020, the country’s poverty rate has decreased to 3% from 14.2% (based on the multidimensional poverty index). The program to build a new countryside has achieved key results, really contributing to the comprehensive improvement of the lives of rural residents. Health insurance coverage has increased rapidly, from 60.9% in 2010 to 90.7% in 2020. Viet Nam's human development index has improved year by year as it is listed among the countries of top development index. The protection of living environment, response to non-conventional security risks, such as rising sea level, natural disasters, epidemics, environmental pollution and the likes are attached great importance to, including mechanism and policy improvement, forecasting, detecting and prompt handling.  

The spiritual life of Vietnamese people is increasingly raised, so it is getting richer and more comprehensive. The national education network has been strengthened, educational infrastructure has been improved, teachers have been developed, and many policies have been issued to ensure that every citizen has the right and ability to access lifelong education. The development of the education and training system not only contributes to providing human resources for the society, but also significantly helps form personality and lifestyles for the young generation, referred to as the future generation of the country.

Socialist democracy is widely practiced, supported by increasingly tight institutions. The implementation of the Democracy Regulation at grassroots level has positively contributed to the realization of the people's mastership, protection of their legitimate rights and interests in socio-economic decisions in localities. The movement of "Studying and following Ho Chi Minh's ideology, morality and style" associated with the implementation of the Resolution of 4th  Central Conference (11th session) named "Some urgent issues on current party building", the Resolution of 4th Central Conference (12th session) named "Strengthening the Party building and reorganizing; preventing and repelling the deterioration of internal political ideology, morality, lifestyle, "self-evolution", "self-transformation" has sped up the formation of party culture and political culture which basically honors and preserves purity, strength, the virtues of industry, thrift, integrity, public-spiritedness, selflessness, and modeling among cadres, party members as well as the whole political system before the public. A series of movements, such as "All people unite to build a cultural life", "National target program on building a new countryside in the 2016-2020 period", "All people unite to build a new countryside, a civilized urban life”, building a new cultural family, office culture, corporate culture, entrepreneur culture have helped make significant changes in educating humans, preventing negative and degraded social ethics, and creating a healthy and positive social environment.

The fight against corruption and waste has been intensified, not only exposing the ones who make corrupt use of their positions and powers in the political system, but also recovering the lost assets of the State and the people, and more importantly, regaining and consolidating the people's trust in the Party and the State, when bad examples have been publicized to admonish and educate cadres and party members on public ethics.

The Party's renewed views on freedom of religions, beliefs, non-religions, non-beliefs, ethnicity, social welfare, social security were institutionalized in the 2013 Constitution and the law system. Many guidelines and policies in the social and cultural field have been implemented. Traditional beliefs are respected and expected to exploit a good social values. Religions are allowed to be practiced smoothly under the State's policies and laws. Ethnic minorities are given favorable conditions for economic development, conservation and promotion of unique cultural values. Social order and safety are guaranteed. Material, spiritual life and social security of all religious followers and ethnic minorities have been improved.

Cultural activities in literature, art, library, conservation and promotion of cultural heritages are paid attention to, characterized by valuable works with politically and socially great significance. In 2019 alone, more than 33,000 book titles with 400 million printed copies and thousands of e-books were published by 59 publishers nationwide. The press and mass media system developed rapidly and modernly. Hundreds of radio and television channels are currently in operation, including many channels for international connection and cooperation. According to 2019 statistics, Viet Nam has 64 million internet users and 143.3 million telephone subscribers (66% and 148% of the population respectively) of which the majority uses smart phones to access internet anytime and anywhere across Viet Nam. The development of modern mass media creates open and favorable conditions for Vietnamese people to grasp a lot of opportunities to enrich their knowledge, culturally exchange and connect with ethnic groups and cultures across the globe. All mass sporting events and elite sporting ones have seen expansion and many positive results.

It can be said that the results in building and developing the culture over the past 10 years are great and comprehensive, which are directly attributed to the Party's renewed guidelines on cultural development in the 2011 Platform. In addition, those results could not be achieved without the nation’s proud cultural roots and its people’s creative working inspired by further development.

Directions for Vietnamese culture in the coming time

Together with significant results achieved in the 10 years of implementing the 2011 Platform, the cultural field has seen quite many limitations.

The perceptions of culture and relationship between culture building and human development, culture’s role and position in national construction and development are sometime incomplete and unprofound in some place. The implementation of the Party's culture-building guidelines in the Platform and resolutions of the Party Congress is not really synchronous and comprehensive. Some party committees and authorities are still confused in institutionalizing the requirements to put culture on a par with politics, economy, national defense, and security. The construction and determination of Vietnamese culture and people standards is still slow, causing confusion and inconsistency in the development of cultural norms and standards in politics, economy as well as agencies and organizations of the political system.

In practice, though political ideology, morality and lifestyle in the Party and the society have been improved, complicated developments are still reported. Disparities are still seen in enjoying the culture between the urban area and the rural area, between the plain, midland and remote, isolated areas. Social evils and crimes are still unpredictable with incidents against habits and customs, which makes the cultural environment unwholesome. The results in literary and artistic activities, preservation and promotion the value of cultural heritages have not met the real demand. The mass media system has developed rapidly but improperly with signs of commercialization, against the principles and purposes in some agencies and units reported; the management of the new media is not tight enough with a lot of negative and false information on the internet and social media channels causing confusion and frustration among the people. The fight against improper ideas, protection of the Party’s ideology and the nation’s unique cultural traditions is still inadequate. Limitations and shortcomings are still seen in human resources, especially high-quality ones, for the cultural field. International cooperation on culture is not highly effective and has not kept up with development requirements.

Those limitations and weaknesses are mainly due to some committees and authorities’ deficient attention to this area, leading to irresolute leadership and direction. The concretization and institutionalization of the Party's resolutions is slow, inconsistent and, in some cases, unfeasible. State management of culture is slow to be reformed and is some time neglected and even ignored in some place, disciplines and rules are not strict enough. Investment in the cultural field is inadequate and unfocused, with new culture issues not timely grasped for proper and effective investment. The training and cultivation of human resources, especially leaders and managers at all levels, in the cultural field have not received proper attention.

From the demand for the national construction and development in the new period and based on the research and review of the 2011 Platform implementation, a number of measures for the nation’s culture building in the coming time will be suggested as follows.

Firstly, continuing to study, clarify and thoroughly grasp the lines of "building an advanced culture imbued with national identity", so that culture can become "the spiritual foundation of the society as well as the goal, the drive for sustainable national development”; of the close tie between cultural building and human education, developing "culture for the human personality perfection and educating people for cultural development". On the basis of the Party's lines, continuing to clarify the content of cultural development, the mechanism for managing the relationships between culture and people, as well as other areas in the society, fulfillment of cultural and human development tasks.

Secondly, attaching greater and more practical attachment to the implementation of the Party's lines on building culture and developing Vietnamese people. During the implementation, synchronizing stages, from concretizing the lines, creating policies, forming and improving the mechanism, organizing the apparatus, and renewing the leadership modes of the committees at all levels as well as the management methods of state agencies, to insuring human resources, financial investment, remuneration, commendation, and relevant conditions. In order to "put culture on a par with politics, economy, national defense, security and foreign affairs", for example, understanding the viewpoint and investing finance is not all that matters, but most importantly, regulations must be clear and complete together with political determination and specific measures. In order to build an industrial park or carry out an economic development project, meeting the requirements of culture and people such as housing, schools, kindergartens, health services, leisure or recreational centres should be a must. In order to well manage information on the new mass media, specifying the conditions for broadcasting information, the rights and responsibilities of broadcasters is a top priority.

Thirdly, formulating and implementing a strategy of comprehensive cultural development in the new period, meeting the requirements of national development, in accordance with the current specific conditions, especially the stormy development of internet and social media networks. Promptly researching and identifying the system of Vietnamese culture and people values as the basis and reference for the development of cultural standards in politics, economy, and communities. Issuing a comprehensive development policy for cultural pillars such as building a new cultural life, encouraging creative, literary and artistic activities, building a positive cultural environment, developing cultural industry, preserving and promoting unique cultural values, and developing physical training, mass sports, and elite sports.

Fourthly, equipping Vietnamese people with the ability develop comprehensively, patriotism, high national spirit, good personality, healthy lifestyle, creative working skills and aspirations to move forward. Strengthening the practice of democracy, protecting human rights and the legitimate interests of the people, raising social responsibilities and duties towards the country, and strictly maintaining social order and discipline. Synchronously developing factors and conditions to ensure that people have opportunities to develop comprehensively and enjoy increasingly better welfare and services, such as families, education system, health system, welfare facilities for culture, physical training, sports, and entertainment.

Fifthly, developing a cultural industry in accordance with the socio-economic conditions and cultural nature of Viet Nam, together with creating a healthy cultural market. Increasing exchange activities among the people, international cultural cooperation driven by the spirit of pro-active international integration, selectively absorbing mankind’s cultural values, and widely disseminating Viet Nam’s unique cultural values throughout the world.

The national construction and development course is entering a new era characterized by rigorous development of the 4th industrial revolution, the very rapid movement in economy, politics, national defense, security, changeability in relationships as well as regional and global connections. That situation poses high demands on political courage, aspirations for development and innovation. Therefore, building an advanced culture imbued with national identity and comprehensive human development is of great importance. Because it aims to strengthen the spiritual foundation and internal strength which serves as the most sustainable foundation for the national development.

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(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, National Politics Publishing House of Facts, Hanoi, 2011, t. 4, p. 187

(2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid, t. 5, p. 81

(3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid, t. 11, p. 93

(4) All the socio-economic data of Viet Nam in this article are taken from “Summary of Draft Report on 10-year implementation of socio-economic development strategy (2011-2020), formulating Socio-economic Development Strategy for 2021-2030 period”


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