The book “Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam” by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is the basis for theoretical research and practical reviews
The report of the 12th Party Central Committee on the documents submitted to the 13th National Party Congress presented by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong stated: “A review of the last 35 years’ implementation of the renewal process and 30 years’ implementation of the Political Platform on national construction in the period of transition to socialism has confirmed that the theories on renewal guidelines, on socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam have been increasingly improved and gradually materialized”(1). So, what is the “theory on the renewal path, on socialism and the way to socialism in our country”? How is it developed and perfected? And how is it realized step by step? The book Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, published by the Central Theoretical Council and the Truth National Political Publishing House will contribute to answering those questions.
The purpose of publishing the above-mentioned book is to serve the theoretical research work, review of reality, especially theoretical review on the renewal guidelines, lessons learned, and issues of law from the actual construction and development of our country in the process of implementing the doi moi policy of the Party. At the same time, this is also the basis for mastering, communicating and raising the awareness of cadres, party members and the masses about socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam, forming an ideological consensus, promoting the strength of national unity to realize the strategic goals set out by the 13th Party Congress.
Under that spirit, the book selects 29 typical articles and speeches by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong from the preparation of the Documents of the 13th Party Congress until now. These writings have systematized the theoretical development achievements and the latest practical summaries of our Party on socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam. The article “Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam” (the People Daily, May 15, 2021) acts as a guiding basis for the selection and arrangement of articles and speeches in the book, with four basic contents that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong set out: 1. What is socialism? 2. Why did Viet Nam choose the socialist path? 3. How to gradually build socialism in Viet Nam? 4. What is the significance of the doi moi (renewal) and the advance to socialism in Viet Nam over the past years and what are their issues? The writings and speeches of the General Secretary in this book are instructive, targeting cadres, party members and people working in a general sector or profession in society, in order to clarify the scientific and practical foundations, orientations, directions and tasks of that sector or profession. In each writing or speech, there are possibly contents on general theoretical issues, together with those analyzing the actual situation, summarizing the practical problems posed to the country, the sector or profession. The content arrangement of the book, therefore, is mainly based on the main topic which the writing deals with.
Regarding socialism, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has outlined important and fundamental achievements of our Party in the creative application and development of Marxism - Leninism in accordance with historical conditions of Vietnam. After the Russian October Revolution, from a scientific theory of K. Marx and F. Engels, real socialism was born and became a powerful driving force promoting the development of human history towards progress, humanity, justice and happiness for people. Because of the extremely good values of socialism, Nguyen Ai Quoc and many Vietnamese revolutionaries chose the socialist path for Vietnam. They organized and forged the Communist Party of Vietnam to overcome countless hardships and sacrifices, gradually realizing those values into vivid reality in our country.
These values are not only established in theory, but have been verified by the actual construction and development of our country. They are expressed in i) “a society in which development is truly for humans”; ii) “economic development accompanied by social progress and equality”; iii) “a society of compassion, solidarity and mutual assistance towards progressive and humanistic values”; iv) “sustainable development in harmony with nature to secure a clean living environment for present and future generations”; v) “a political system where power truly belongs to the people, is for the people and serve the people”(2).
It is these true values of socialism that have become the goal and orientation of the revolutionary path that President Ho Chi Minh, the Party and people have chosen, trusted, and steadfastly followed.
On the path of gradually building socialism, from the reality of our renewal, national construction and development, the Party has summarized general perceptions about socialism with eight key features: “It is a society where the people are well-off, the nation is strong and society is democratic, equitable and civilized; the people are masters; it possesses a highly developed economy on the basis of a modern productive force and suitable and progressive production relations; it enjoys an advanced culture imbued with national identity; its people are entitled to wellbeing, freedom and happiness and are blessed with opportunities for comprehensive development; ethnic groups in the Vietnamese community are equal, united, respectful and supportive of each other to grow together; it has a law-ruled socialist state of the people, by the people and for the people under the leadership of the Communist Party; it maintains friendship and cooperation ties with countries in the world”(3).
These characteristics are the contents of the Vietnam’s model of socialism, a unique achievement of creative theoretical development of our Party. But that is just the target model. It is a long and arduous cause to realize that model, which needs human energy and great wealth, tireless creativity, especially a logical, right way to solve development tasks.
Building a socialist-oriented market economy is the result of our Party’s research on theory and reality. It is Vietnam’s typical development model, which is suitable to the conditions of the country’s transitional period to socialism and characteristics. As Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized: “The economic model we are strving for is the socialist-oriented market economy. It is a particularly fundamental and creative theoretical breakthrough of our Party. It is also an important theoretical achievement over 35 years of implementing renewal, stemming from Viet Nam’s reality and selective absorption of experiences around the world. Thus, the socialist-oriented market economy is a modern market economy, well integrated with the world, operating fully and synchrnonously with the laws of a market economy. It is regulated by a law-ruled socialist State under the leadership of the Communist Party of Viet Nam. It upholds a socialist orientation towards the goals of a prosperous people, strong nation, and democratic, equitable and civilized society”(4).
On the basis of analysis and explanation of the market economy in general, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong clarified the Party’s perception of the socialist-oriented market economy. He pointed out and affirmed the important attributes of the market economy that distinguish Vietnam’s socialist-oriented market economy from other market economies. It is an economy that observes “the combination of economics and society, the coordination of economic and social policies. It also ensures that economic growth would be accompanied by social progress and equality”. In other words, it is the special attention paid to social policies, policies towards people, harmonious development between economy and society. It is not for economic growth that progress and social justice are disregarded. People should be facilitated to enjoy all achievements of development, their lives are improved concurrently with the process of economic construction and development.
On the culture in relation to the economy in particular and other fields of social life in general, Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized: “We consider culture as a spiritual foundation of society, an internal strength, a driving force for national development and defense. We regard the holistic development of culture in harmony with economic growth, social progress and equality as a fundamental guideline underlying the construction of socialism in Viet Nam”(5).
Thus, culture is not only affirmed as one of the four pillars of the Party’s decisive policy on national construction and development, but also a guarantee for the socialist orientation of the economy, which demonstrates the humanity and superiority of the regime with the goal towards the people, and for their happiness and comprehensive development.
From new perceptions on socialism, at the 13th Party Congress, Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong once again affirmed the political determination of the whole Party and people: “To heighten the Party’s leadership, ruling capacity and combativeness; build the Party and political system comprehensively clean and strong; consolidate and increase the people’s trust in the Party, State and socialist system; arouse aspirations for the country’s prosperity and well-being, promote the prowess and strength of the great national unity in combination with the strength of the times; accelerate the process of renewal, industrialization and modernization in a comprehensive and synchronous manner; build and safeguard firmly our Fatherland, preserve firmly a peaceful and stable environment; and strive for ours to become by the mid-21st century a socialist-oriented developed country”(6). These are the guiding thoughts and orientations on Vietnam’s construction and development tasks in the coming period. In the immediate future, they are the guidance for the implementation of the tasks set in the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress. To successfully implement those overall goals, 4 tasks act as 4 pillars of the Party’s policy, namely considering the socio-economic development as the centerpiece, Party building the key, cultural development the spiritual cornerstone and locomotive for socio-economic development, and safeguarding our Fatherland as well as national defense and security the pivotal and permanent mission.
The content of socio-economic development is presented in different speeches and writings in the book. When addressing the Government of the new tenure, Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong mentioned comprehensively the general socio-economic contents and tasks: to develop a socialist-oriented market economy, in which all economic sectors operate according to law, are equal before law, to form distribution relations that ensure fairness and create momentum for growth; to develop an advanced culture imbued with national identity, demonstrating the role of ensuring the socialist orientation of economic growth; to place people at the center of the development strategy, cultural development. Considering people as both the goal and the driving force of the renewal(7). That common spirit is concretized in the content and requirements of building and developing classes of people in society. That is, to build a strong Vietnamese working class - “a prerequisite to ensure the success of the country’s process of renewal, industrialization and modernization”. That is, “to build a growing Vietnamese peasant class who is really the subject of the process of agricultural development and new-style rural areas building”. Taking care of the youth is the responsibility of the Party, the political system and the entire people because “the youth are an important part of the nation, the backbone of the country. If the youth are strong, the nation will be strong; the strength of the nation contains that of the youth”(8).
The content of socio-economic issues is also associated with the responsibilities of each sector and profession in its direct or indirect involvement in solving the country’s socio-economic development tasks. In his speech at the National conference on Foreign Affairs on December 14, 2021, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong gave special importance to the requirements and tasks of the diplomacy in national economic development. It is “to prioritize the search for and expansion of markets for Vietnamese goods, services and labor, attracting capital, technology and management experience, especially FDI to the priority areas of the country”(9). However, whether it is general theoretical arguments or specific tasks of each sector or profession, all are governed by the principle: “All viewpoints and policies must really originate from the people’s legitimate aspirations, rights and interests, considering the people’s happiness and well-being as a goal to strive for”(10).
On the issue of cultural and human development, based on President Ho Chi Minh’s famous saying “Culture must light the way for the nation”, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong analyzed and pointed out the development and perfection of the Party perceptions on culture and people, in which culture is considered as one of the four policy pillars, the spiritual foundation, and at the same time the driving force of socio-economic development. Thereby, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong came to the conclusion: “Our Party affirms: The focus of cultural construction and development is on building people with fine characters and building a wholesome cultural environment”(11). This is an issue of great importance for the cause of building socialism. Because after all, all kinds of development are by the people and for the people, the difference is just in the perception of people in the social community. The purpose of building socialism is to bring a prosperous, happy, progressive and fair life to all members of society, regardless of social class and status. A clear and full awareness of the role, nature and purpose of cultural development is a condition for the Party to come up with reasonable and effective guidelines and tasks on cultural development and human development for regions, classes and age brackets.
Regarding national defense, security and foreign affairs in the new conditions of the country and the general international context, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong emphasized that the guiding perspectives of our Party, which have been consistently expressed in the Documents of the 13th National Congress, are to: “resolutely and persistently struggle to safeguard our Fatherland’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity while firmly preserving a peaceful and stable environment for national development; proactively and actively undertake comprehensive, intensive and extensive international integration on the basis of firmly maintaining independence, autonomy, self-reliance and self-resilience; soundly, flexibly and efficiently tackle relations with major powers and neighboring countries... efficiently solicit and utilize all resources in order to meet the requirements of national construction, development and defense in the new situation”(12).
From this overal direction, the contents of guidelines, orientations and tasks for national defense, security and foreign affairs are set specifically in the speeches of events related to each sector.
In his speech at the 11th Congress of the Military Party Committee, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong requested that the Military Party Committee be fully and deeply aware of the nature and role of our Army as “the Army of the people, by the people and for the people, under the absolute and direct leadership in all aspects” of our Party, in order to accomplish six tasks of: fully understanding the nature and responsibilities of the Army; building a clean, strong, exemplary and typical Army; strengthening the Army’s close–knit relationship with the people; being ready to defend the Fatherland from early, from afar; coordinating with ministries, sectors and localities to strengthen national defense potentials and all-people national defense posture; and synchronously implementing solutions to build “a standardized, elite and gradually modernized army”. Therefore, “The army must be absolutely loyal to the Party, to the Fatherland, be closely attached to the people.”
On security issues, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong accentuated the need to vigorously and synchronously implement solutions to build a “truly clean, strong, close to the people and close to the grassroots”; to actively coordinate with functional agencies, ministries, sectors, localities and the People’s Army “to maintain State security and social order and safety in all eventualities, to avoid passivity and unpreparedness in any circumstance”(13).
In the field of foreign affairs, from summarizing the practice of foreign affairs and the diplomacy of our Party and State, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong outlined the “school of diplomacy” of “Vietnamese bamboo” which is featured by being imbued with national identity, “taking the unchangeable to deal with the changeable”, keeping “a warm heart, a cold mind”, “to resolutely and persistently handle external relation challenges in a flexible but effective manner, taking advantage of the mutual interests to promote cooperation and development and to protect the interests of the nation. The building, development and promotion of the role of the “Vietnamese bamboo” school of diplomacy creates the condition and foundation for Vietnam’s external and diplomatic activities to fulfill the fundamental tasks: To continue promoting the pioneering role of external relations in shaping and preserving an environment of peace and stability, mobilizing external resources for national development, and heightening the country’s status and prestige”(14).
In terms of Party building and the construction of the political system, this content holds a particularly significant position with nearly half of the collected writings in comrade Nguyen Phu Trong’s book. It reflects the decisive role and position of Party building and the construction of the political system in the revolutionary cause in general and the renewal in particular, both theoretically and practically.
The contents on Party building and the construction of the political system cover a wide range of issues, from general theoretical basis to the concretized problems of directions, tasks and solutions to ideological work and organization, inspection and building a socialist law-ruled state, building the Fatherland Front, socio-political organizations and people’s organizations. Particularly, the writings of comrade Nguyen Phu Trong on Party building and rectification show the depth of theory, with highly generalized scientific arguments drawn from practical summaries, especially from the Party leadership over the renewal, construction and development of the country. Stemming from the guiding point of view “The leadership of the Party is the determining factor to all victories of our country’s revolution”, he emphasized: “Party building has always been a key task of the Party, which is extremely important to the revolutionary cause of our country”. Therefore, “it is necessary to carry out the Party building and rectification with a positive and robust spirit, in order to generate a more obvious change in all aspects”. The aim of Party building and rectification is to build “a genuine revolutionary well-organized party with correct guidelines, with a team of cadres and party members who are ethical, exemplary, and dedicated, closely attached to the people, and supported by the people”, a party “with invincible strength, being stopped by no forces on the mission to lead the nation to socialism”(15). To achieve that goal, it is necessary to “attach great importance to Party building in terms of ideology. Hold firmly the theoretical foundation of Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, and at the same time constantly make further creative supplementation and development in line with Vietnam’s reality. In which, “Theory must lead and accompany reality”, “a leading vision must be ensured”, breakthroughs must be made in theoretical development, thus contributing to overcome bottlenecks in thinking, awareness and viewpoints in service of institutional improvement, guideline and policy making...”(16).
It is necessary to continue to renovate and perfect the organization and reform the Party’s leadership mode; to strengthen the building, education, training and improvement of revolutionary morality of cadres and party members, especially “strategic-level cadres - the quintessence of the Party to be sufficiently qualified, truly steadfast, having sufficient mettle, characters, intelligence and prestige to handle strategic tasks”(17).
Regarding the Party’s inspection and supervision work, the General Secretary highlighted that it is “an important part of Party building work”, “one of leadership functions of the Party”, “all Party organizations and member is equal under the Party’s disciplines and are subject to the inspection, supervision and enforcement of Party disciplines”; inspection and supervision is “a precious sword to heal wounds”(18).
For the National Assembly, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong stressed its significant role as “the highest representative body of the people, the highest authority of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam”. In order to meet the requirements of the country’s political tasks in the new period, the National Assembly needs to “continue to renovate the contents and modes of operation”, perform well its functions: formulating legislation, creating a legal framework for the country’s activities, serving the tasks of socio-economic development, ensuring national defense, security and foreign affairs; to represent the people’s legitimate rights and interests; to make decisions on important issues of the country “in the direction of increasing accuracy”; “to renovate, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of supervision activities”; “to strengthen external relation activities, proactive integration into the world and international cooperation”(19).
Regarding the organization and operation of the Government, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong pointed out the roles and responsibilities of the Government as “the highest State administrative body exercising executive power of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; the agency that directly organizes, manages, and effectively implements all guidelines of the Communist Party of Vietnam, turning the Party’s guidelines and viewpoints and the State’s laws into vivid reality, bringing prosperity, freedom and happiness to the people, bringing glories to the nation”(20). To fulfill that responsibility, the Government needs to “continue renovating strongly the organization and mode of operation”, to pay special attention to the “building of the organization, apparatus and personnel work”; “to renovate, improve the effectiveness and efficiency of decentralization, assignment and coordination”; “tighten administrative discipline and regulation”; to resolutely, persistently “fight against corruption, wastefulness and negative phenomena”; to make greater contributions to the doi moi process, to accelerate industrialization and modernization, and gradually advance the country in the transition to socialism”.
Under the regime of “Party leadership, State’s management and people’s mastery, the Fatherland Front, socio-political organizations and people’s organizations play a particularly important role in the exercise of the right to mastery of the people. This is also an issue mentioned by comrade Nguyen Phu Trong in many writings and speeches, of which the most focused and latest is the speech at the National Conference to launch the Action Program of the Vietnam Fatherland Front in implementation of the Resolution of the 13th Party Congress. He reiterated and emphasized the views of President Ho Chi Minh: “respect the people, stay close to the people, understand the people, learn from the people, and be responsible to the people”, “listen to the people, be understood by the people, be trusted by the people”.
Also from this point of view, the General Secretary generalized a very important point in the closing speech of the 6th Plenum of the 12th - tenure Party Central Committee: “If what we do can win the people’s hearts, our regime and our Party will survive. On the contrary, if we go against the people’s wishes and lose their trust, we will lose everything”. In order to consolidate and strengthen the people’s trust in our Party, State and the socialist regime, to arouse the aspiration to develop a prosperous and happy country, to promote the will, determination and strength of national unity combined with the strength of the times, Comrade Nguyen Phu Trong earnestly requested the Vietnamese Fatherland Front and member organizations to be “dynamic, creative, more innovative, more practical and effective, contributing to gathering more and more people of all classes in the great national unity bloc; to strengthen the close-knit relationship between the people, the Party and the government, forming a great and invincible strength to build our Fatherland more and more strong, our people more and more happy, and our country more and more prosperous and developed”(21).
The book "Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam" by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is a work of high-level theoretical summary and an in-depth review of our Party’s unique, creative developments of the Vietnam’s socialist model based on Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought. As such, the book has presented, analyzed, and explained theoretical and practical issues of the Vietnamese model of socialism, the content and solutions to gradually build socialism in Vietnam in a concise, clear, simple and comprehensible manner. This book by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is an important basis for summarizing the theory of our Party’s renewal guidelines, a valuable document for political and ideological education, and raising the awareness of cadres, party members and our people on socialism and the path to socialism, creating a social consensus to arouse and promote the strength of the great national unity in order to successfully realize the goal of prosperous people, strong country, democratic, equitable and civilized society./.
(1) CPV: Documents of the 13th National Congress, Vol.I, Truth National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, pp.25.
(2), (7), (19), (20), (21) See: Nguyen Phu Trong: Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam, Truth National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2022, pp. 21-22, 91-93, 79-80, 98, 118.
(3), (4), (5), (6), (9), (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15), (16), (17) , (18) Nguyen Phu Trong: Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam, ibid., pp. 24, 91, 27, 68-69, 196, 240, 165, 49, 458, 192, 226, 277, 339, 152.
(8) See Nguyen Phu Trong: Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam, ibid., See “Building a strong working class together with strong trade unions”, p. 284-294; “Building a growing Vietnamese peasant class, the subject of the agricultural development and new style rural areas building”, pp.295-305; “Taking care of the youth is the responsibility of the Party, the political system and the whole society”, pp.306-314.
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Abstract: In 2019, the communist parties in various countries commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist International in various ways and discoursed the possibility of international alliances in the new era. In socialist countries, China solemnly celebrated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the May Fourth Movement and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Vietnam, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea continued to promote reforms and lay out new developments through the revision of constitutions and the establishment of legislation. Most of the non-ruling communist parties tried to change their strategies of struggle. Meanwhile, socialist thoughts also rose in Europe and America. However, in the context of the rise of the “New Cold War” mentality, the developments of most western communist parties are still on a downward path. In 2020, with the spread of COVID-19, the superiority of the socialist system was further manifested, and the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind became more popular.
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