Wednesday, 22/1/2020
Building Vietnam’s culture in the new era: Associating culture with politics and economy
14/2/2018 16:58' Send Print
People's Army Newspaper

1. We are living in a world full of big, rapid and unexpected changes both positive and negative. Beside the broad consensus of the international community on many issues, contradictions and conflicts are unpredictable in many aspects, from economic to political as well as relations among powers, between big and small countries. There are even differences among ethnic groups, and religions in the same ethnic community. Global changes and big and small contradictions require that all countries, especially developing countries such as Vietnam, have to be flexible to adapt and integrate, maintain their stuff and principle to avoid losing themselves in all aspects, at the same time not to be out of place, out of tune, especially not to lag far behind other countries in the world community.

Any country which achieves all these goals will grow faster, stronger and more sustainable. In this development, culture plays a very important role, because both politics and economy need culture and cannot develop without culture. In other words, in the current world conditions and in the new era of Vietnam, culture must permeate both political and economic aspects. It must be closely linked with politics and economy in order to achieve the goal of a prosperous people, a strong country, a democratic, equitable and a civilized society. More than ever, it is impossible to do politics smartly in order to be effective and successful, nor can the country's economy develop swiftly and truly sustainably without cultural enlightenment and leadership, meaning "culture ... can not stand outside, but must be in economics and politics." (1)

Culture is neither something that exists outside human society, nor is available in nature from the beginning. At the same time, culture is not unchangeable with time; on the contrary, culture has always developed, been supplemented, enriched, and, with times, inherited selectively by succeeding generations, even surpassed in certain aspects.

Culture is not an inborn trait of people. In the broadest sense, "culture is the generalization of all modes of activities and its expression that mankind has produced to meet the needs of life and the demands of existence." (2) Thus, culture is one of the outstanding characteristics, or the most fundamental and the unique characteristics of human being.

The higher the level of social development, the higher the level of culture in society, or it’s possible to say that the high level of culture is both a driving force and a result of social development. If all "creativity and invention of language, script, ethics, law, science, religion, literature, art, tools for daily life like clothing, food, housing and modes of use" (3) are considered culture, it is not only inseparable from everyday life, but penetrates all aspects of the superstructure.

2. Talking about politics is referring to activities concerning relations between strata, classes, and ethnic groups in a country. In particular, when talking about politics, it is important to emphasize the role of seizing, maintaining, consolidating and building power, the use of state power, the mobilization of force and the participation of socio-political organizations in the affairs of the country, identification of specific tasks and activities of the state in specific periods as well as throughout the years. So, speaking of a healthy and progressive political system is speaking about a political system for the people, for the country, for constant development and existence of a nation and a country.

When speaking about modern politics we can not fail to mention two very important pillars: the right to leadership, and the right to ruling of political party and the state's management efficiency to implement a ruling party’s lines. With a modern rule of law state where all power belongs to the people, the role of culture and the level of culture, in particular legal culture, management culture, organizational culture and behavioral culture of the administration towards the people are all the more important.

Once recognizing that politics relates to relations between strata, classes, and ethnic groups in the same country, first of all there is a need for a solution that harmoniously and equitably settle social fundamental relations, and the interest relations among them. Looking back at human history we see that since ancient times, in agreement with the thought of Platon (427-347 BC) in his work “Republic” that "righteous equity values much more than gold and silver," (4) philosopher of ancient times M. Cicero (106-43BC) in his work On Government emphasized that "justice is a thousand times more precious than all gold and silver in this world," so "no benefit or reward is achieved through injustice." (5) Injustice, unrighteousness of the rulers of the country often create contradictions, segregation, and even division in society; whereas, vice versa, righteousness and equity will lead to harmony and consensus in society as a driver of development.

Therefore, in order to create interest harmony of the whole society, it is necessary to have a smart enough policy so that none of the people has to suffer and no one feels being unfairly treated. A political system which does not create substantial equality and equity in all aspects but especially excessive and uncontrolled stratification is likely to face social instability. Such a benefit harmonious policy requires not only scientifically high feature but also extremely high humane and cultural character. That is to say, all policies of a progressive political system in the present time must aim at serving people as both true and genuine subjects and objects of society.

In order to create substantial social justice and avoid excessive rich and poor stratification and social unrest, the highest culture in contemporary politics is to regard people of all strata and classes in society as both subjects and objects of political institutions to arouse their hidden strength and best serve them. It is an intelligent politics and a political institution where all are by the people and for the people. It is also a primary important mainstay to create long-term sustainability of the regime. When people feel that they are an organic part of the nation and community, truly respected, and they can enjoy freedom, justice and equality, they will be extremely loyal to and strive to defend the regime and country which "is the only society [that] liberal-minded people like to live in" and dedicate to, as Platon once said. (6)

Another very important point in contemporary political culture, as noted above, demonstrates in the right to leadership and the right to rule of political parties, and the state's management efficiency.

In the current world situation, for any political regime belonging to any political institution, either ruled by a single party or by several parties competing for leadership, to maintain power firmly after seizing power by whatever type of free election, there is a need for a clean and efficient state management body to carry out the ruling party’s lines. That body must include elites who represent the ruling party and the whole of society. They must have already possessed capacity in terms of management, culture, execution, firm legal culture and high organizational culture to fulfill their obligations and responsibilities before the party and the country, instead of being sent to specialized training after being assigned responsibilities and holding certain positions. This is something we need to learn, gain experience and implement to avoid waste of time, money and loss of people’s confidence.

In highly democratic and civilized countries, if a person, after being elected or appointed to a particular position, fails to meet his/her job requirements, he or she will voluntarily resign or will be forced to resign or will be removed from office. It can be said that the culture of resignation is also a prominent and popular culture of modern world politics. Cultured politicians need to understand that their assignments to particular functions are to share the work of the country, not to make profit, and to enrich unrighteously. When they feel not qualified enough to assume the posts or do not have the trust of the people, it is normal and respectful if they submit resignations. On the other hand, when someone is removed from office due to poor capability, violation of law, lack of credibility and public trust, it is the strict legislation, cleanliness and true strength of the state apparatus.

In a rule of law state and in a country with democratic tradition, it is very common for a person to be replaced because of his/her incompetence or anomalies. The replacement is to improve the capacity, effectiveness and prestige of state management bodies and the ruling party to win people’s hearts and minds, and to create high consensus in society. That is why in advanced rule of law state, inertia rarely lasts long and there are often changes in right to leadership and right to rule. It can be said that in these countries the culture of resignation is also one of the driving forces to social development. It is time for Vietnam to uphold this practice in the whole society, first of all among cadres, leaders, managers at all levels.

3. In order to develop our country, besides a healthy politics, a stable and progressive society, it is necessary to concentrate on investing in economic development and accelerating industrialization in the direction of modernity. However, today it is impossible to develop the economy at all costs, especially at the expense of the living environment because of economic growth indicators. In other words, it must first link economic development with ecological culture. It is important to recall K. Mark’s statement more than a century ago that "if cultivation is carried out spontaneously without conscious guidance... it will leave behind fallow land." (7)

Elaborating K. Marx’s statement, it is necessary to be aware that both agricultural and industrial developments require a deep understanding of relations between human being and nature, and full understanding that human being and society cannot exist without the help of nature. In particular, man "does not completely dominate nature as an aggressor dominating another nation, as a person living outside nature." (8) That means in order to develop the economy effectively, without environment cost, one must not lack culture, especially ecological culture.

Therefore, investment reception and industrialization must be necessarily modernized and not be separated from modernization. Both industrial or agricultural industrialization must be modern, using modern technology, not using those just because they are low cost or because of getting loans with low interest rates. Be cautious with selection of projects to avoid prolonged implementation or much higher capital as compared with bidding prices.

The low ecological culture is also reflected in approving the construction of too many small hydropower plants in the core area of protected and protection forests in many places. Construction of hydropower plants have been used as an excuse for actual and legal exploitation of timber in protection forests. At the same time, the policy for changing the use of protection forests, water retaining forests, even forests of national defense, for economic purposes have also given opportunities for legal forest destruction. There are many other evidences of low level of ecological culture in planning economic development policies over the past years.

Culture has not penetrated in production and business; business and corporate culture is not considered as essential for national sustainable development. It is more worrying that business and corporate culture has not yet met the requirements of business in the current conditions of globalization. The national economy in particular and other aspects of the country in general will not be able to sustainably develop if the level of business culture is not improved in time, or duly given attention to.

It is easy to find that beside genuine, ethical and well-cultured producers and entrepreneurs, other producers and businessmen have still engaged in one-off, unethical and uncultural production and businesses in all areas, including those related to people’s health and lives.

It must be frankly acknowledged that this situation which has existed for such a long time, is attributed to not only businessmen but also competent authorities, even law enforcement agencies as well as lack of laws, and because law-making has not cached up with developments in life. It can be said that current openly uncultural production and business have occurred because corruption has not been effectively checked and interest groups of many degenerated elements have not been dealt with by law and law-enforcement agencies. This is a remarkable evidence of the close link between state management at all levels and economic activity, between politics and economics and culture.


(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1995, Vol. 6, pp. 368-369

(2), (3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Op.Cit., pp.3, 431

(4) Platon: Republic, the World Publishing House, Hanoi, 2013, p. 93

(5) M. Cicero: On Government, translated by Luong Dang Vinh Duc, the Hong Duc Publishing House, Hanoi, 2017, pp. 338, 246

(6) Platon: Republic, Op. Cit, p. 589

(7) K. Marks and F. Engels: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1997, pp. 32, 80

(8) Marks and F. Engels: Complete Works, Op. Cit. Vol. 20, p. 655

(9) See: Resolution of the 9th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 11th Tenure on building and developing culture and people of Vietnam to meet the requirements of sustainable development of the country.

Prof. Nguyen Trong Chuan, PhDVietnam Academy of Social Sciences