A Political Platform to build the nation in the transitional period towards socialism passed at the seventh National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam in June, 1991 is up for review at the 11th congress in 2011.
Viet Nam's pathway to socialism is unique. The country now positions itself in a transitional period on the way to socialism and eventually, communism.
Professor Dr Nguyen Phu Trong, a politburo member and Chairman of the National Assembly, has written the article The Development of the Awareness of the Party From the 1991 Political Platform Until now.
Looking back over the past 19 years, we can say that the tremendous efforts made by the entire Party, army and people, have enabled our country to achieve many important gains of historical importance. These gains have brought about a facelift and raised the country's position in the world arena.
However, since 1991, big changes have taken place in Viet Nam and the world at large. The Party has successfully solved many issues that have arisen and much has been added or supplemented to the original platform or further been clarified to help complete the renewal process in the country's transitional period from a backward agricultural country to a socialist society.
In his article Trong has highlighted the theoretical points and the core contents of the whole development process.
Following is an unofficial translation of the article.
[The 1991 Political Platform] analyses the main features of the era, the characteristics of the Vietnamese revolutionary process and its development of basic points of view from the past to come up with new concepts on socialism. It has a great strategic significance and forms an ideological and theoretical foundation for the Vietnamese Communist Party and the nation – indeed, it can be considered a fighting banner for the new period of development.
Professor Dr Nguyen Phu Trong, member of the Politburo and Chairman of the National Assembly.
Achievements gained in the past 19 years have confirmed the great value and strong vitality of the 1991 Political Platform. We have also drawn many good lessons that will enable us to take the Vietnamese revolution to a higher plane.
However, soon after the birth of the document, the Party conceded its limitations. It said: "At present, we don't have the capacity to paint a whole picture of a future society. But we can come up with principles and major orientations for the transitional period toward socialism of our country. We will make changes to the platform, step by step, during the implementation to make it respond to reality."
The world, including Viet Nam, has experienced many changes since 1991. Many lessons have been learned to help us reach our socialist goal. At different levels, our Party has expanded its awareness of socialism, as well as in economics, politics, culture, society, national defence, security, foreign diplomacy, party building and the political system.
Following is an executive summary of theoretical points of view and main contents of the 1991 Political Platform.
1.The transitional period advancing to socialism is a long-term cause full of difficulties and challenges.
Since its inception and throughout the course of revolutionary struggle, the Communist Party of Viet Nam has confirmed that socialism is the objective, the ideal of the Party and people. Advancing towards socialism is the inevitable path for the Vietnamese revolution.
After analysing the situation inside and outside the country, the 1991 Political Platform said: "At present socialism is facing many difficulties and challenges. World history has experienced many ups and downs, but humankind will, no doubt, reach the goal of socialism – that is the law of historical evolution.
"In the late 20th century and early 21st century, as the socialist bloc collapsed and the socialist movement was in crisis, the Communist Party of Viet Nam kept reiterating its chosen path of taking the country towards socialism was on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought."
The Party spent a lot of time seeking to discover the nature of socialism and how to achieve it in Viet Nam.In the renewal process, gradually, it has understood the deep meaning of socialism and the transitional period needed to develop it in the nation.
As the Party became more mature in theory, it realised it was wrong to take the ultimate goal of socialism for the nation's immediate mission, correcting simplistic approaches such as emphasising only the importance of production relations; the mechanism of equal distribution; not fully realising the importance of developing labour forces in the transitional period; equating the market economy with capitalism while neglecting the gains achieved for humankind during the capitalist development period; wanting to quickly eradicate commodities production, the market mechanism, private ownership and private economy; and considering that a state of law is a capitalist state.
The 1991 Political Platform introduced new concepts about socialism and orientations for building socialism in the transitional period. That was a big step in the thinking of the Party, which had grasped thoroughly the basic principle of Marxism-Leninism. The thinking reflected the creative application of the Party in dealing with the real situation. During the process of implementing the 1991 platform, the Party continued to learn lessons from reality while conducting more theoretical studies in the hope of achieving a deeper knowledge of socialism.
The socialist society Viet Nam has been trying to build is a society of prosperous people; a strong and democratic nation; a fair and civilised society of people with advanced economics and modern production forces; public ownership of key production materials; a culture imbued with national characteristics - and a society where people are free from oppression and injustice, enjoy a life of plenty, freedom and happiness, and can develop fully, where all ethnic groups live in equality, solidarity and mutual support.
In its platform, the Party states that it wants to build a socialist State ruled by law - of the people, by the people and for the people under the leadership of the Communist Party,that the State wants to enjoy the friendship and co-operation with peoples from other nations. To achieve this, Viet Nam must have a socialist-oriented market economy; push up the path of industrialisation and modernisation while developing a knowledge-based economy.
It must also build an advanced culture with deep national characteristics that are a cornerstone for the spiritual life of the nation, a nation that has strong national defences and security. It must integrate actively into the international community while building a socialist democracy. It must consolidate the great national unity and solidarity of its people by building a socialist state ruled by law - a state of the people, by the people and for the people. The Party must be made pure and strong.
With lessons already learned, the Party further understands that the path to socialism is a long-term cause full of difficulties and challenges as it must generate deep changes in all aspects of society.
Starting out as a backward agricultural economy and after several decades of war, Viet Nam aims to become a socialist country, bypassing capitalism. The Party realises that the transitional period will be long and arduous and must undergo various forms of economic development and a struggle between the new and the old.
The phrase "bypassing capitalist development" here means that we want to rule out any forms oppression, injustice and capitalist exploitation in Viet Nam. We will not accept the establishment in our country of any institution or political system that runs against our ideal of socialism. Meanwhile we treasure other world achievements and values gained during capitalism. Of course, we select the best practices to apply in our country.
2. The development of a socialist-oriented market economy.
The introduction of a concept of socialist-oriented market economy should be considered as a breakthrough by the Communist Party of Viet Nam. It is an important theoretical lesson drawn in the past almost 20 years of implementing the 1991 Political Platform and the best practices from other countries.
After several years of searching, at the seventh National Congress in 1991, the Party decided to abolish the command economy model and state subsidisation and replace it with a multi-sectoral economy. The 1991 Political Platform stressed the development of a multi-sectored commodities economy in line with socialist orientation, operating by a market mechanism yet under State management.
Then at the eighth National Party Congress in June, 1996, a new, yet very important concept of a commodities economy and socialism was outlined. This said that the development of world civilisation and commodities production did not run against socialism but was considered an important factor in building socialism.
We just simply referred to applying various economic modalities and management methods of a market economy as catalysts for building socialism, not following capitalism. Some aspects of the market economy are contradictory to socialism. Once the market economy is in place, we have to minimise its negative trends.
At the ninth National Party Congress in April, 2001, the concept of a "socialist-oriented market economy" was officially mentioned by the Party as an economic model encompassing the transitional period towards socialism in Viet Nam.
A socialist-oriented market economy is a new form of market economy in its historic development. It's an economic modality that is in line with rules of a market economy as well as principles and characters of socialism. It is reflected in ownership, management and distribution – the three factors ensuring the ultimate goals of a prosperous people, a strong nation and an equal, democratic and civilised society. This is not a capitalist market economy, as our objective is to build socialism. And it is not yet a socialist market economy as we're still in the transitional period.
In a socialist-oriented market economy, there are various forms of ownership and economic sectors. They have to operate in line with laws and are inseparable parts of the national economy. They enjoy equal rights before the law and are in co-existence as well as in healthy competition.
In that situation, the State economic sector holds a vital role, the collective economy is encouraged to develop - and the private economy becomes one of the driving forces for the national economy. There will be various forms of ownership, particularly in the increasing number of joint-stock companies, and the State and collective economies will become the mainstay of the national economy.
Equality in distribution must be ensured and distribution relations must create motivation for development; distribution in accordance to labour performance, economic efficiency or capital and resource contribution and through the social welfare and safety net systems should be the main methods. The State will control the economy through laws, strategies, planned activities, policies and material forces to orientate, regulate and promote the socio-economic development.
A basic and important characteristic of the socialist-oriented economy in Viet Nam is the close link between economics and society and the combination between economic policy and social policy. Economic development should always go hand in hand with social progress and equality at each step of development. Social development is based on the principle of social progress and equality. It requires rapid, efficient and sustainable economic development which should enable the mobilisation of adequate material resources for the implementation of a progressive and fair society.
We can't have a rapid, efficient and sustainable economy if the majority of the people live in poverty, have poor health, low education and high unemployment To settle the relationship between economic growth and social progress and equality at each stage of development, in each policy and in the whole process of development means we should not wait until the nation reaches a high level of development and then implement social progress and equality.
Of course, we'll not sacrifice social progress and equality for economic growth. In a nutshell, each economic policy should gear towards social development targets; each social policy should directly or indirectly support economic development immediately or in the long run.
We should encourage everyone to create wealth legally while stepping up the national programme to reduce poverty and caring for people who have rendered services to the homeland or those who are disadvantaged. If we don't handle these issues well, we can't talk about a socialist-market economy as it is no better than a capitalist market economy or the pre-eminences of socialism over capitalism.
3. Culture is the spiritual cornerstone of our society.
It should go hand in hand with high economic growth and social progress. It is part of the basic process of building socialism in Viet Nam. It reflects the awareness by the Party. Since the eighth National Party Congress, cultural development and human-resource development have been defined in many party resolutions. They are the driving forces of the renewal process led by education, training, science and technology.
Environmental protection is one of the world's pressing issues. In Viet Nam it is part of the criteria for sustainable development, for ensuring good health and quality of life for the people.
The culture we're building is an advanced culture deeply imbued with traditional characteristicss, a unified but diverse culture. It is imperative to make culture have deep roots in all social activities, each individual, each family, each collective and each community. In his lifetime, President Ho Chi Minh said: "Culture shows the way for us to go."
Another important point of view reflecting the Party's new awareness is the acknowledgement of the great importance of the close link between economic development as the epicentre,building the Party as the key task and cultural development, the spiritual foundation of society. These three factors are described as the main pillars for sustainable national development.
To make culture become a genuinely spiritual foundation, it is imperative to highly value Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thoughts while enhancing the fine cultural traditions of the past and absorbing the quintessence of other world cultures. We must build a civilised society and advocate high intellect, good morality, healthy life styles and good aethetics. We should strongly criticise outdated thinking and combat wrong ideologies and non-cultural behaviour while protecting our traditional culture from foreign cultural floods as the country integrates deeper into the international community. Cultural activities should be backed by both the public and private sectors.
In the strategy for socio-economic and cultural development, people are the core. Human rights are intertwined with the rights and interests of the nation, the country and the people's right to be masters of the country and of their own destiny. Whatever we do must be for the people and for their happiness. It is important to enhance the human factor and human-resource development in national construction and defence. Building a wealthy, progressive and happy family and making it become a "health cell" of the society is to build a cosy home for every citizen.
4. It is vital to maintain an environment of peace, independence and self reliance that is proactive in international integration.
In implementing the 1991 Political Platform, we further realise the importance of keeping and maintaining peace so that we can focus efforts on socio-economic development and in pushing up the momentum of industrialisation and modernisation in line with the Party's socialist-oriented guidelines.
Our thinking of the world and the region has changed. The way we look at the world is now rather comprehensive. We consider it as an environment for the survival and development of our nation.
The change in ideology toward the world and international relations demonstrates Viet Nam's wish to diversify her relationships with other nations and ensures the national interest is the absolute principle in international integration. On this basis, Viet Nam has gradually improved her external policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, co-operation and development. We want to pursue an open foreign policy with independent respect, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, non interference in each others' internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and the settlement of all disputes and conflicts through peaceful negotiation - and the non use of force or threat of using force.
In the trend towards economic globalisation, we want to be proactive in integrating into the world economy, expand co-operation into other areas to maximise our internal resources, improve the efficiency of international co-operation and champion our position of self reliance and socialist orientation. The Party deeply understands the importance of co-operation, yet maintaining the right to exist in peace with nations of different socio-political systems. Thinking about "we and the enemy", "subject and partner", has also changed in the spirit of having more friends and fewer enemies. We have stressed all those who wants to establish and expand friendship and co-operation with Viet Nam on the basis of mutual benefit and equality are our friends and partners.
Anyone who wants to undermine our national construction and defence are our enemies. Viet Nam continues to state it wants to be friends and trusted partners of all countries in the world and an an active and responsible member in all international organisations in which it is involved. This means that Viet Nam will actively take part in solving international issues and strive for peace, independence and development.
While placing top priority on national construction, the Party still defines the tasks of building and defending the homeland as the two closely bound strategic tasks. On the other hand, it pays high regard to the relationship between economics and national defence-security and diplomacy.
Regarding national security, we have a broad meaning. National security here covers politics, economics, culture, ideology and society. So does the concept of national defence. Defending the homeland here includes the territory, borders, offshore islands, air space, seas - as well as defending the socialist regime, revolutionary "fruit", the Party, the State and the people, the economics, national culture and the renewal process.
In addition to that, we're well aware of the potential threats to national security from elements that might cause instability to our political system and society as a whole, particular "non-traditional" sources.
We have developed new points of view on the people's war, on the role of "the rear" in a hi-tech war. The strategy of national defence and the meaning of "All People's Defence" confirm that national defence is the strength of a whole nation, including the people's.
Key factors for future successes will be close combination between economics and national defence and security during the formulation of military strategies; and between national defence and security and economics. And it is very important to have strong co-ordination between diplomatic activities and national defence.
We see the importance of building and consolidating the people's revolutionary armed forces and security forces. They should receive regular training and be equipped with modern weapons to make them elite. They should be ready to overcome "peaceful evolution" or sabotage the activities of any hostile forces.
5. The fifth point is to enhance democracy, build a socialist State of law and to consolidate the strengths of the nation.
Building a socialist democracy and making sure the power belongs to the people is an essential and long-term task of the Vietnamese revolution. During the renewal process, we have realised that democracy is both an objective for us to try to achieve - and a driving force in socialist construction.
These two functions reflect the relationships between the Party, Government and people. Once again, we want to reiterate the imperative to build a socialist state ruled by law and that the State is of the people, for the people and by the people on the basis of an alliance between workers, farmers and intellectuals under the leadership of the Communist Party of Viet Nam. The State is the representative of the people's right and at the same time is the organising agency to help people implement the Party and Government policy for the interest of the people. On behalf of the people, the State exercises the right to maintain law and order and foil any acts encroaching upon the interest of the homeland and the people.
There is a mechanism allowing the people to exercise their rights as true owners of society and participate in social management. The State cares for the people, protects their rights and legitimate interest and respects and implements all provisions written in international conventions on human rights that Viet Nam is a signatory.
We understand that a state ruled by law is an asset belonging exclusively to capitalism. During the transitional period to socialism, it is imperative to have a state ruled by law. A socialist state ruled by law is different from a capitalist state ruled by law because in the capitalist state, the law is used as a tool to protect and serve the interests of the bourgeois class. In a socialist state, the law is a tool to exercise the mastery rights of the people. In the Vietnamese socialist state, power is unified with clear divisions and close co-ordination between state agencies in carrying out three rights, namely legislature, executive and judiciary. The three agencies work closely to make sure their performance is unified, efficient and effective.The mandate for their activities is based on the principle of democratic concentration and putting the people's interest above all. There is a mechanism to monitor activities of State power.
"National unity" has been a vital factor for the success of the Vietnamese revolution. The Party reiterates that all nationalities in the nation are equal. They are united, respect each other and enjoy mutual support throughout the course of national construction and defence, including the present drive of industrialisation and modernisation. The Party and Government have consistently carried out policies of national unity among people of different nationalities, religions and belief, social classes, economic sectors, genders and ages. We respect different opinions, yet these opinions must not be against the interests of the nation and have no stereotype or prejudice against people just because of their background or social class. All we want is to build mutual trust in the spirit of openness and looking towards to the future.
Belief and religion are the spirit need of a certain part of the population. We are committed to respecting and ensuring the rights to freedom of belief and religion or non-religion of the people. Our policy is to unite people from all walks of life and enable them to exercise their rights as good citizens.
Overseas Vietnamese are an inseparable part of the Vietnamese nation. They constitute a resource of the Vietnamese community. The Party and Government have encouraged them to further contribute to foster their love for the homeland and be proud as Vietnamese. We have also encouraged them to treasure our national cultures and traditions while respecting the laws in the countries where they are residing and live in harmony with people there. This is a good way to consolidate the friendship and solidarity between Vietnamese people with peoples from other countries.
The Viet Nam Fatherland Front and socio-political organisations as well as other organisations are the true representatives of the mastery rights of the people. They are examples of great national unity and solidarity. They are also the forces that will monitor the implementation of and provide feedback for the Party and Government's policies and guidelines.
6. The Communist Party is at the forefront of the working class and of the nation.
For a long period and even in the 1991 Political Platform, the Party has been defined as "a pioneer of the working class, a loyal representative of workers, farmers and of the nation". The development of the Party is for the interest of the workers, farmers and labourers as well as nation. The 10th National Party Congress said that the Communist Party of Viet Nam was the pioneer of the working class and of the working people in general - and of the Vietnamese nation.
Reaching a consensus that the Party be the ruling party was an important development over the past 20 years. It reflects the nature of the working class of the Party and the special characteristic of the Party in line with the Ho Chi Minh Thought. It is suitable to realities in Viet Nam while responding to the people's wish and aspiration. By so saying, we do not mean to lower the class status of the party and swing to the stand of "the People's Party". Yet we want to have a more comprehensive reflection on the awareness of the class status of the Party. The new awareness requires the Party to be loyal to the working class, to champion its position and ideology while continuing to study and enhance the fine traditions of the nation as well as consolidating national solidarity. Marxism-Leninism and H? Chi Minh Thought are the lodestars for the Vietnamese revolution. We appreciate the value of Ho Chi Minh Thought. At the ninth National Party Congress, participants agreed it was a system of crystallised and comprehensive points of view on key issues of the Vietnamese revolution. It was also agreed it was the outcome of the creative application of Marxism-Leninism combined with the fine traditions of the Vietnamese nation and the quintessence of the culture of mankind.
We consider Party building work as vital in deciding the life or death of the Vietnamese revolution. From that stance, it requires the Party to practice self-rectification and carry out renewal to keep the Party pure and strong politically, ideologically and organisationally. It also requires the Party to focus more on studying theory and drawing from lessons learned.
In addition, the Party should further complete its renewal policy and ideological work while educating members on avoiding bad practices and how to become good role models. To achieve this, we have to improve the quality of cadres and party members.
Other work the Party should pay attention to is evaluating its the leadership role to make sure its relationship to citizens is just like water to fish. Private economy run by Party members is a specific issue as it relates to the point of view and principle guidelines of the Party. This issue has been discussed for many years and by national Party congresses. After a long period of theoretical study and lessons learned from reality, at the last 10th National Party Congress, the Party agreed to allow its members to run private enterprises (including individual business, smallholder and individual capitalist) on the condition they comply to the laws and Party statutes as well as regulations issued by the Party Central Committee.
We fully understand that in the transitional period to socialism, our country is still poor and priority should be given to production development to produce more wealth for society. The Party wants to develop a multi-sectoral economy on socialist lines and under the leadership of the Communist Party. This means that we should encourage party members to engage in business activities so that they can improve their livelihoods while contributing more wealth to society.
In short, in implementing its 1991 Political Platform, the Party's awareness has constantly been improved. This has helped improved guidelines for the renewal process and in national construction in the transitional period to socialism.