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Reviewing the reality for theory study of the Party: Status quo and issues
25/3/2019 10:26' Send Print
Illustration photo. Source: VNA

Renovation in Vietnam is an unprecedented and not a common practice; the Party must carry out the renovation and review experiences to constantly supplement and develop the Party theory. Therefore, reviewing the reality is of special importance in the Party's theoretical research activities. The task of reviewing the reality was prompted by a big lesson that the 6th Party Congress on December 1986 concluded. That is the Party must act according to objective law, and base itself on reality to build line and develop theory. All Party Congresses have emphasized the need to review the reality to supplement and develop line, and policies, especially new models, creative practices from localities and grassroots level to replicate; review international practices to avoid groping around and to take shortcuts. The 12th Party Congress considered practical review the first task in the cycle of theoretical study, reviewing the reality, scientific research and development of theory.

Review of the reality is a difficult and complicated task, and responsibility of each party organization and member, first of all core, professional theoreticians. In each party organization at each level, it helps draw on experiences, and best practices and multiply them, discover good examples to educate, set examples for party members and the masses, learn from experience, good practices of other units and apply them appropriately to localities and units. It assists supplementing theory research and development which is a task professionally carried out by the Party Central Committee through special methods, tools and processes to form and develop macroeconomic line and policies and constantly create theory.

Perception of reviewing the reality to supplement and develop the Party's innovation theory

1- The role of practical review in theoretical study

The special importance of reality in the Party's theoretical work comes from its role as the basis, motivation, purpose and standard of theory; from the characteristics of socialist construction in Vietnam which is to build a completely new unprecedented social regime while reviewing the reality to develop theory.

Reality is the basis of theory because all knowledge formed directly or indirectly derives from reality. Reality is the driving force of theory because activities transform the world, people themselves, help people improve their own capabilities, including cognitive capacity. Reality always sets out the needs, tasks and directions of cognitive development, requiring new knowledge, especially knowledge which are generalized into theory to, in its turn, guides practice. Reality is the purpose of theory, because theory is not only to explain the world, to satisfy people’s demand for knowledge, but more fundamentally to direct reality and reform the world. Reality is the starting point and also the destination of theory, the field to test the truth of theory. Ho Chi Minh explained: "Knowledge comes from practice. Knowledge through practice becomes theory. That argument must be used in practice.” (1) He then made a generalization: "Practice brings about knowledge which then becomes theory. Theory leads practice." (2) Reality is the standard to evaluate theory’s right and wrong. Human knowledge is the result of a cognitive process. That knowledge may correctly or incorrectly reflect objective reality. Reality is the only objective criterion to affirm the truth, rejecting errors. Therefore, K. Marx in the Theses on Feuerbach stated: "The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth - i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.” (3) Therefore, unifying the theory with practice is an important principle in the cognitive theory of Marxism-Leninism, which is of great value in directing theoretical research and practical review. Staying aloof from this principle will fall into dogmatism, lack vitality, unable to direct practice; Practical activities also fall into the quagmire of empiricism or practical dogmatism. In that sense, V.I. Lenin pointed out: "To understand we must begin to learn and study from experience, and from experience to the common." (4)

Theory reflects objective reality, not in a simple, mechanical manner, but at a high level of perception through object abstraction. The reflection of theory is indirect; subjects of awareness must adopt rigorous scientific methods to properly perceive the reality, in which practical review plays a particularly important position. "Reviewing the reality is the basic method in theoretical activity to overcome dogmatism and empiricism, combine theory with practice for generalization. Ultimately, theory is generalized from the reality. Without the reality and practical experience, there is no theory.”(5) Building socialism is to build a whole new society without precedent in national history. In order not to avoid falling into voluntarism, Party line, and policies must always conform with the reality of the country and the trend of the era; importance must be given to review the reality to supplement and develop theory. Therefore, theoretical research, in a broad sense, must include practical review. It is a very difficult and heavy task, requiring sufficient investment of resources and the subject who conduct practical review must have special virtues, qualities and methods.

Theory research in a broad sense includes basic, political, specialized, scientific theoretical research and practical review. Basic theoretical research studies specific subjects of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought. Not all knowledge, viewpoints of K. Marx, F.Engels, V.I. Lenin and Ho Chi Minh are subjects of basic theoretical research, only the most essential and general parts in the form of principles, categories, concepts, viewpoints, knowledge, which constitute the foundation of thought, the compass of action of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Political theoretical research is the study of socialism and the way to socialism in Vietnam, the result of the creative application of Marxism-Leninism in the specific conditions of the Vietnamese revolution and the Party's theory development in Vietnam’s reality. Scientific research has a very wide scope and is the task of many different sciences, from natural sciences, science and technology, to social sciences and humanities. Each scientific advance has a direct significance for the development of specialized theory, and leading value in each specific discipline (economy, politics, culture, society, defense and security, foreign relations, environment, among others), indirectly provides knowledge to supplement, develop political theory. The theory work does not conduct all scientific research, but only selects, combines, links valuable knowledge to supplement and develop Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Thought, improve the model of socialism and the way to socialism in Vietnam, especially to inherit selectively historical experiences, lessons of communist parties around the world, progressive values and major trends in the world which affect Vietnam. Practical review is an integral part of the theoretical work, because without reviewing the reality, theory is limited to basic research and explanation for the platforms, lines, and resolutions available. To separate reviewing the practice from theoretical study, or putting practical review in top position as defined by the 12th Party Congress is to emphasize its importance to theory formation and development in association with the specific conditions of the renovation process when it is necessary to overcome rigid theory and identify specific methods of implementation, mobilization of suitable investment resources, stop research from books only, and connect with practice.

2. Object, targets, contents and methods of practical review to supplement and develop theory

If the abstract object of theoretical research indirectly reflects the objective reality in the forms of principles, categories, rules, concepts, viewpoints, lines, the object of practical review is very specific, vivid, directly reflecting properties and characteristics of the object that affects perception of the subject. The scope of practical activities ranges from material production, political and social activities and scientific experiment activities (including social experiment); from domestic to world reality; from contemporary to historical issues and heritage that are affecting the present. Within the large scope of object, the practical review must focus on meeting the requirements of building, supplementing and developing theory.

The review of the reality must cover its vast object from material production and socio-political activities to scientific experimental activities, the key is to discover basic and main contradictions and push up the development of things. Practical activities are diversified, the review of the reality neither covers all the tasks of sciences nor goes into trivial matters, but focuses on the most basic issues with the aim of exploring, building, developing the model of socialism and the way to socialism in Vietnam. It is not only to discover models and new methods to generalize into lessons, but also to consider the movement of theory in practice and test theory in practice, especially identify discrepancies and gaps between theory and practice. Therefore, theory study and practical review must be integrated as "two in one," or called the activity of practical review and theory study or theoretical and practical review. In that sense, theory study and practical review are like "two sides of a coin," which cannot be separated physically, and oppose each other.

The object of practical review is the system of knowledge gained from material production, socio-political activities and scientific experiment. It is differentiated from the object of theoretical research, which is theoretical knowledge associated with abstract thinking to generalize and link knowledge into thoughts, viewpoints, lines, and policies. Here, it is necessary to distinguish practical review at theoretical level with common performance review. The reviews of units, localities and industries are common reviews of activities with the goal of directly serving leaders, managers and executives. While practical review is to serve theoretical research which is conducted from " a case” to "scope", from limited scale to large scale, studying from phenomena to nature, and rules by induction method, then gradually elevating experience into theoretical knowledge.

If empirical knowledge is divided according to the development levels of thinking, there are common empirical knowledge and scientific empirical knowledge. Common empirical knowledge is often gained directly in daily life and production, saved and transmitted through memory, practice, manifested in different ways in each individual and community (folk, ethnic, local knowledge). Scientific empirical knowledge is obtained from scientific and social experiments, an important basis for theoretical perception. Practical review must attach importance to both common empirical knowledge (pre-scientific) and scientific empirical knowledge, with particular attention to the latter.

If empirical knowledge is divided according to reflecting method between cognitive object and subject, there are indirect empirical knowledge and direct empirical knowledge. The indirect empirical knowledge is foreign experience and experience left behind by history. Direct empirical knowledge is domestic experience and experience gained by subjects through practice or specialized research. Review of the reality must focus on review of direct empirical knowledge, i.e. knowledge gained through domestic practice and experience. As for indirect empirical knowledge, study focuses on what has impacted the country (foreign experience), and the present (historical experience). Ho Chi Minh had very important guidance on behavior towards indirect empirical knowledge, “If those knowledge and experiences match the objective conditions, then they are true and believable. If not, they are unbelievable.”(6) This shows that, in review of the reality, attention must be given to reviewing direct empirical knowledge, because they are knowledge of national characteristics, carrying "the breath of life." However, indirect empirical knowledge must not be neglected, because any problem of the nation is inseparable from those of the world, especially the globalized world; no event of the present can be separated from the past. A thorough analysis of domestic historical experience and foreign experience is needed, while avoiding rigid application of experience, restoration of the old and practical dogmatism.

Subjects of the review of the reality are the party committees at all levels, depending on the nature and tasks of each level, specific requirements for review of the reality are set. However, review of the reality at the theoretical level is the responsibility of the whole Party, first of all the Central Committee, the Politburo and the Secretariat, in which the units playing a specialized core role are strategic advisory agencies. The reason to emphasize this is because only the central level has the authority to plan, modify, supplement and develop guidelines, orientations associated with the review of the reality. The review of branches, localities and units contributes to theoretical study. However, its objective is to serve leaders, managers, executives to ensure that Party line, orientation and policies are maximally implemented in concrete situation. The review also for making local and branch plans and decisions due to decentralization, and power assignment, thus properly settling the relationship between the common and individual, the universal and the particular. Theoretical knowledge is highly abstracted and generalized, but in practice there is no such abstract object. Therefore, there is always a gap between theory and practice that can only be bridged by empirical knowledge gained from the review of the reality in each area, each level and each sector. It makes theory come to life in a lively, appropriate way, adaptable to rapid changes of reality. In other words, the empirical knowledge gained from practical review in each locality, branch, agency, and unit plays an intermediary role for theory to effectively orient and direct the reality. On the other hand, the practical reviews of localities and sectors discover new models, good practices to disseminate, replicate, supplement and develop political theory. Therefore, clearly assigning responsibilities between the central and local levels, between branches and core specialized agencies are major issues in organizing forces and allocating resources for the review of the reality in association with theoretical research.

Contents of practical review are very rich and diverse: They are review of spontaneous models in practice, pilot models, a movement or a campaign launched at by the masses, or initiated by a directive, resolution, leadership decision; review of examples. The scale can be an organization, a locality, a field and the whole country. The practical review for theoretical study must cover those contents and generalize them for the formation of concepts, views, line, and policies of the Party to build a development model of the country. To generalize, synthesize reality and theory, it is necessary to go from the specific to the abstract, from "case" to "scope," small scale to large scale, from phenomenon to nature. The goal is to set up theoretical tasks which guide and direct practice at each stage and improve the model of socialism and the way to socialism in Vietnam, ensuring the successful implementation of two strategic tasks: building and defending the socialist homeland.

Different from theoretical research methods which use abstraction, generalization, practical review methods must study concrete and direct properties and characteristics of things and phenomena. Accordingly, the following methods are commonly used for review of the reality: observation, survey, experiment, analysis and experience review and consultation. Observation is a method of systematic understanding of object by different senses to collect information of object, including direct and indirect observation. Survey (field survey, questionnaire, interview) is a method of surveying objects on a large scale using defined forms to detect the distribution rule and identify object characteristics. Experiment is the method that the subject makes impacts on the object and its evolution to direct its development according to the identified objectives, asserting or rejecting original hypothesis. If the results are appropriate, they will be replicate on a large scale, if not they will be eliminated. Analysis and review of experience is a method to review the results of practical activities in the past in order to draw scientific, practical conclusions, and is carried out by using theory to analyze reality and draw higher theory from reality. Expert method is to use specialized and interdisciplinary intellectuals to analyze, clarify the nature of object, find optimal solutions. Among the above-mentioned methods, the methods of analyzing and review of experiences and expert are preparation for abstracting, generalizing data, facts and documents into theoretical knowledge.

Review of the reality for supplementing and developing the Party's innovation theory at present

1- Results of renewal in practical review for supplementing and developing theory over the past time

While leading the Vietnamese revolution, leader Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam have attached great importance to review of the reality to supplement and develop theory. As the Party has regularly reviewed the reality, its line, orientations and policies have always been consistent with the reality, capable of directing the reality which is evidenced by the great victories of the Vietnamese revolution. Historical experience also points out that if one stays aloof of reality, one cannot grasp objective law, and can easily make dogmatic mistakes and shortcomings. Great achievements of historical significance of the more than 30-year-renovation originated from the Party’s association with the reality, respect for objective law, attaching importance to reviewing the reality to ceaselessly supplement, develop and test theory in the reality.

Therefore, in theoretical work, the Communist Party of Vietnam is increasingly aware of and upholds the role and position of practical review. The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee issued in March 2002 "On the main tasks of ideological and theoretical work in the new situation" affirmed that "Set store by reviewing the reality in theoretical research and in activities of party committees; consider it a regular task of all levels and branches; link practical research with selective acquisition of scientific achievements of humanity.” (7) The 12th Party Congress emphasized: "Enhance the capacity of planning lines and policies in accordance with the objective law and characteristics of Vietnam, create a breakthrough for development," (8) "step up review of the reality, theory study, provide scientific and theoretical foundation for the planning and development of the Party line and the State policies and laws.” (9) From that point of view, the review of the reality for theoretical research has been more fundamentally carried out with the participation of many forces, components, especially in the preparation of the documents of the National Party Congresses, resolutions of the Party Central Committee, mid-term reviews or review of the resolutions and conclusions of the Central Committee, Politburo, and the instructions of the Secretariat after one cycle (5 year, 10 years). In the 20 year- and 30-year-review of the reality and theory the Central Committee established Steering Committees, thematic sub-committees, sent many survey teams to localities, businesses, conducted many national workshops to grasp the reality, supplement and develop the Party guidelines and orientations. In the working agendas of the Central Committee for the whole tenures, in order to issue a resolution, and a conclusion, the Central Committee has established a steering committee to build projects, attracting a large number of leaders, managers and scientific experts who are responsible for reviewing the reality to supplement and develop the Party line and orientations. Resolutions and directives of the Party after a certain cycle (5, 10 years) were reviewed, revised and supplemented for the new cycle or new documents are issued to improve the capacity of directing the reality.

The contents of practical review in the past years were rich and diverse in different levels, from "big problems" to specific models. After more than 30 years of renovation, in general, the theory of socialism and the way to socialism in Vietnam have become clearer. This is attributable to the review of the reality, especially of major issues in theoretical perception, such as building a socialist-oriented market economy; building a socialist rule-of-law state of the people, by the people and for the people; ensuring the supreme national interests in line with international law in the new world order; independent foreign policy, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralization of international relations; the nature and the vanguard role of the Party; the issue of party members engaging in private economy; three strategic breakthroughs for national development; social development management, social progress, equity in every step and every development policy; resolute and persistent protection of independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity in accordance with international law; control of power, social monitoring and criticism. The review of reality were systematically conducted in association with theory and scientific research for each axis of issues during the preparation of documents for the National Party Congresses, and the review of 10-year, 20-year and 30-year renovation. Each resolution, directive of the Central Committee has been built on the basis of practical review and theoretical research.

Responsibilities of the party committees at all levels and sectors in review of the reality have been defined more clearly. On the basis of the decentralized authority, the party committees at all levels have striven to strengthen advisory bodies which play a core role in the review and development of review plans in line with the party tenures. The review of the reality for theoretical research is seen as the responsibility of the Party Central Committee, the Politburo and the Secretariat of which strategic advisory bodies play a specialized core role. These bodies including the Central Theoretical Council, Party Committees (Organization, Communication and Education, Economy, Mass Mobilization, Control, Internal Affairs), Party's political and theoretical research institutes (the Ho Chi Minh National Political Academy, the Communist Review, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences) have been increasingly strengthened in terms of resources, methods and conducted regular review of the reality. From October 1996, the Central Theoretical Council was established and tasked to act as a focal point to rally forces to study theory, conduct review of the reality, advise the Central Committee on political theoretical issues to help build guidelines, orientations and major policies of the Party. Theoretical and scientific research of institutes, and schools has increasingly paid more attention to the task of practical review. The Central Committee and other localities, economic organizations, non-business units and combat units have regularly coordinated in practical review using diversified methods. On 3 February 2016, the Central Committee issued Instruction No.02-HD/TW on practical review and theoretical research, clarifying purposes, requirements, objects and scope, contents, methods of practical review, theoretical research. In particular, the Instruction clarified the responsibilities of the party committees and heads at all levels in reviewing the reality.

The number cadres involving in review of the reality have increased, their quality has been improved. Cadres who are engaged in practical review include 1. Heads and party committees at all levels. They are responsible for reviewing the implementation of Party line and orientations in their units, localities and their branches to improve effective implementation and give feedback to competent authorities to adjust policies if not appropriate; 2. Theoreticians. In the process of theoretical research, practical review has been considered an inseparable component; theoreticians work mainly in advisory councils, academies, schools, research institutes; 3. The team of consultants and experts at the Central and local party committees. In the process of developing projects relating to theory research in service of the Politburo, the Central Committee, the provincial Party Committees, the city Party Committees, practical review is an important task. Each of the above forces has its own role in practical review, which can be linked to leadership, theoretical training and dissemination, providing scientific basis, advising specific project for each problem. It is noticeable that the contingent of cadres involving in practical review has been improved in terms of quality, qualifications, equipped with methods for practical review. The Party and State have also invested resources on practical review, including human resource training as well as funding for implementing projects.

Methods and ways of conducting practical review have been increasingly supplemented and improved. The following methods have been commonly applied for reviewing the reality: 1. Practical review is integrated in basic theoretical research; basic theory is applied in reality to detect newly arising problems, delay in theory and gaps that need to be supplemented and developed; 2. Practical review is associated with scientific research; the most common method is using new theories to analyze and evaluate reality as well as survey the practical situation to develop convincing scientific theory; 3. Practical review is done through evaluating pilot models in practice. Those issues with different ideas such as unified role of the heads of local party committees and heads of administration must be chosen for piloting to gradually draw experience and replicate; 4. Practical review is also carried out in developing projects to be submitted to the Central Committee, Politburo, Government, National Assembly with many different activities, participation of different stakeholders, often carried out by party caucuses, party organizations, party committees. The reviews’ outputs are resolutions and conclusions of the Central Committee; 5. Review of bright examples, good practices, new models implemented by individual scientists or reported by the media, emulation-reward organizations. It can be seen that, with methods as mentioned above, practical review has been closely linked with theoretical research, scientific research, development of central and local projects, communication, emulation, reward and honoring of new elements.

Collaboration between subjects and participants in practical review have been tightened. Notable is the coordination between theoretical and professional scientific research agencies and implementing organizations, between central commissions/sectors and provincial and city party committees, between advisory agencies and policy making agencies. Several practical reviews have also involved international partners, domestic donor agencies in the country especially in new issues which need support in technology, assessment methods and resources. Coordination with the media has also been promoted to communicate and spread the effect of new models, good practices and examples. Events organized to honor and reward new elements, good examples have made practical review more vivid not only in the events, in the organization, but also in each individual. The products of practical review are the Party line, orientations and policies. Thus, it is very important to ensure the results of research and review to be integrated into the Party line and policies. The leading agencies of the Party and State have taken into consideration recommendations from reality, especially new models, good practices, and examples. Leaders at all levels have increasingly consulted experts in both theoretical and practical issues as well as building mechanisms for contacts, dialogues and policy consultations at grassroots level, listening to the opinions of people, reviewing information in the media in order to supplement data and information for issuing important policies and decisions.

Enabling environment for practical review and theoretical and scientific research has been improved. Concerning theoretical issues previously considered taboo, or differently perceived, the Party has agreed to pilot and conduct practical review, such as party members doing private businesses, unifying the roles of heads of party committees and administration at grassroots levels, public-private partnerships, decentralization to local authorities. Translation and introduction of diverse academic theories also help cadres have a new perspective, theory and methods for practical review. Democratization in scientific research helps put out issues for discussions and debates in the media and workshops before conclusions.

2- Limitations and causes

In addition to the above-mentioned important results, it is necessary to frankly point out that there are limitations in practical review for theoretical research. In general, practical review has not been conducted in a professional manner, lacking specialized staff with sufficient quantity and quality necessary for this work. Review of the reality is a specific scientific and practical activity. However, methodologies and theoretical frameworks (subject, object, scope, method, tool, means, relationship between total practical review with theoretical research, theory education, scientific research, line development) as a basis for activities of party committees at all levels are not fully available. Because of the lack of unified methodologies and theoretical frameworks, cadres have not been fully trained and carried out practical review professionally. It is difficult to mobilize forces to participate in practical review as there is often a shortage of core specialists. Many units perfunctorily and nominally conducted practical reviews hence results were not positive. The authority and responsibility of subjects and the participating forces have not been clearly identified. Normally, to implement assigned tasks, all agencies set up steering committees with the full participation of different components. However, they often lack core experts who deeply understand theory, practices and methods.

Obviously, the work of practical review has been given much attention to but has not yet met requirements to study, supplement and develop theory. Many practical issues have paved the way, even have been piloted for many years, but conclusions have not been reached (such as unifying the roles of leaders, urban model). Several party committees carried out nominal practical review, hence their products are like rigid administrative reports without knowledge or contain very little knowledge to be selected for supplementing and developing theory. Many localities have arbitrarily applied generic line and orientations in their specific conditions. This shows not only poor knowledge of theory, but also underestimation of practical review to clarify the local characteristics during directing implementation. Rigidly learning and applying experiences of other localities will also lead to failure. This also due to weaknesses in review of the reality, not taking into consideration local characteristics (such as building vertical kilns to produce cement, construction of sugarcane plants, rubber plantations, initial equitization, public-private partnership in recent years).

There are several causes to these limitations and weaknesses, the main ones are as follows: 1. Theoretical dogmatism has existed for a long time, becoming inertia in many officials and party members, limiting proactive and active practical review to supplement and develop creative theory; the common psychology is to wait for the superiors’ direction for application or to arbitrarily apply according to their own experiences; 2. Empiricism is a common ill leading to disregard of theory, lack of awareness to upgrade and develop empirical knowledge into theoretical knowledge in leadership, management and administration; 3. Several party committees have not paid due attention to the investment in human resources, resources and time to review the reality for theoretical research, direction and execution. If they do, they do it perfunctorily, and nominally without systematic, scientific and meticulous methods; 4. Lack of core professionals for practical review, training, guiding and coaching practical review methods.

Measures to improve the effectiveness of practical review for research, supplement and develop theory of the Party in the coming time

1- New context and orientations for practical review

After more than 30 years of renovation, Vietnam is entering a new development period with intermingled opportunities and challenges. With opportunities brought about by achievements of the more than 30 years of renovation, Vietnam’s position has been increasingly enhanced in the international arena; people's confidence in the cause of innovation has grown. While resources for growth have been exhausted and scarce, strategic competition among large countries in the Asia-Pacific region has become increasingly fierce, regional security and political structure have changed, protection of national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and maintenance of a peaceful and stable environment for development have faced many new challenges.

In that condition, taking advantage of opportunities, overcoming challenges, and turning challenges into opportunities are a big problem for development. Therefore, theory study must be one step ahead, capable of forecasting and drafting a proper national development strategy both internally and externally, in which review of the reality is a very important task. Only by correctly combining practical review and theoretical research can we make accurate forecasts, propose appropriate solutions to urgently build national comprehensive strength for security and development.

Requirements for practical review for theoretical research in the coming time is large. However, efforts must be focused on following orientations:

In the field of economy: Innovate the growth model, the way and solutions to bring Vietnam out of the "middle income trap," implement industrialization and modernization of the country. Renovate and perfect the Party leadership in economy; improve investment and business environment, carry out national startups, develop private economy, effectively attract foreign investment; restructure agricultural economy in association with new rural construction; accumulate and concentrate land. Make use of the achievements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In the field of culture, society and environment: Build Vietnamese culture and people to meet the requirements of the new period and develop the cultural industry; build a system of cultural values and norms of the Vietnamese people in the new era; build a healthy cultural environment, civilized lifestyle, cultural potentials; manage social development, build a multi-tiered, flexible and expanded social security system and coverage with higher quality; protect resources, develop "green economy," respond to climate change; renovate human resources training model to adapt to the new period.

In the field of defense, security and foreign affairs: Strategic arrangement in terms of targets, partners and modes of war has changed; build the all-people defense posture in association with the people's security posture in the new situation; defend border security, territorial sovereignty, sea and islands of the country; protect political, cultural security, cyber security, prevent "peaceful evolution," ensure social safety, fight against hostile forces and political opportunists; deepen international integration, build friendly and cooperative relations with other countries, international organizations and localities.

In the field of Party and political system building: build a clean and strong Party in politics, ideology, organization and morality; renew the Party leadership, contents and ruling modalities of the Party. Streamline the apparatus, renew staff work and build a contingent of cadres on a par with requirements of the new period, especially good examples, good practices and new factors. Control power, especially the Party inspection and supervision; promote the role of social supervision and criticism of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and socio-political organizations; strengthen Party building and rectification, prevent and combat degradation of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, internal "self-evolutions" and "self-transformation," fight against bureaucracy, corruption, waste, negative phenomena, group interests.

2. Issues to be solved in order to improve the effectiveness of practical review to supplement, and develop the Party's innovation theory in the coming time

In order to overcome the above-mentioned limitations and strengthen review of the reality on a par with the demands of theoretical tasks in the new situation in the spirit of the 12th Party Congress, attention should be paid to the following issues:

First, raise awareness of the party committees at all levels on practical review for theoretical research, direction and administration. Party committees at all levels and each leader, manager need to be aware of strong points and drawbacks of empirical thinking, thereby finding solutions to promote strong points and overcome limitations. Born and grown up in a small agricultural society, many cadres, party members are susceptible to empiricism, and it is not easy to give up this practice. It is necessary to start with enhancing the level of political theory, creating the practice of using theory to analyze and evaluate the reality, using practice to verify theory. Emphasis must be given to this, because people with poor theory skill can hardly conduct practical review. If they do, practical review is just a mechanical summation of experiences, not supplementing and developing theory from practical experience. Therefore, capacity building of cadres on practical review cannot be separated from enhancing theoretical thinking, especially basic theory to have proper methodologies and methods when applying theory to practice. Training leaders and managers at all levels on political theory is not only to develop theoretical thinking but also strengthen practical review skills which must be turned into a personal habit in the organization and direction of practical review, observation, investigation, analysis and review of experiences; become scientific knowledge; and must use theory to consider and use appropriate experience.

Second, develop theoretical framework and scientific method for review of the reality on the basis of dialectical materialism. The theoretical framework for practical review must clearly define the object, the target, the subject, contents, and stakeholders participating in practical review; the relationship between practical review and theoretical research, with scientific research, with direction; practical review methods. Methods and skills of practical review must be developed to help cadres grasp properties and nature of things and phenomena, ways to use experience for direction and administration, ways and methods to turn experience into knowledge. When the theoretical framework and methodologies have been shaped, it is necessary to integrate them into political training programs at middle and high levels, or organize training workshops to transfer them to leaders and managers at all levels. Training on theoretical framework and methods of practical review must be coupled with training on policy assessment methods, the development of theory to practice through policy. Policy is an intermediary between theory and practice. It is limitations in institutionalization, not because of direction, that many points of views, correct guidelines and orientations of the Party can hardly go into life or deviate in "implementation."

Third, perfect institutions, mechanisms and conditions for practical review for theoretical research. Issue institutions which clearly define the responsibilities and authority of the party committees, members of the party committees, and the specialized core agencies in practical review at each level and each sector. Practical review must become compulsory regime for cadres and party members associated with learning and improving theoretical level, bringing cadres nearer to people, following closely reality. Review and reevaluate existing practical review mechanisms in the core specialized agencies, separating party administrative activities from professional activities for practical review in the party committees. Party committees are the advisory bodies of the Party, playing a key role in reviewing the reality. So far there is no separation between party administrative activities and research and advisory activities (including theory research, practical review, advising guidelines and orientations) which require specialized, interdisciplinary and corresponding methods. The existing mechanism has not yet helped cadres improve theoretical level, grasp practical review methods and skills, hence they get confused when carrying out concrete practical review projects. It is necessary to complete relevant policies, especially ensure resources, working conditions and environment for agencies, and cadres strive to improve their professional ethics, foster professional capacity to fulfill their role as core force in practical review.

Fourth, diversify practical review methods, link practical review with theoretical and scientific research. When practical review become compulsory like theory study, the method of practical review needs to be diversified to train cadres in observation, investigation and situation analysis and experience review in any context and situation in order to optimize theory application as well as discover new knowledge to supplement and develop Party line. Practical review has so far attached importance to indirect methods through the establishment of steering committees and is conducted by vertical system. This method is necessary to implement a specific project or task of practical and theory review when theory is still lagging behind reality, and there is a need to supplement theory with the data of life or of a full cycle of a resolution (5 years, 10 years) which need to be reviewed and assessed. In addition to review the reality by indirect method, there is also practical review by direct method, i.e. leaders make field visits to observe, investigate and review models, new elements, good examples (hero units, individual heroes and heroines, good examples); practical review through attending political theory training. Thanks to direct participation, cadres can truly and deeply review the reality, as Ho Chi Minh instructed: “To fully understand a thing, its nature and internal rules, it is a must to carefully consider, gather rich feelings, then differentiate which is true, which is false, which is right, which is wrong, from outside to inside, to form a system of theoretical concepts. That is understanding gained through practice and is reformed in practice. That understanding is deeper, more correct, reflecting thing more complete.”(10) In order for the method of direct practical review to be more effective, it is necessary to set up a regime of field visit by leaders at all levels to help them form a habit of observing, investigating, considering situations in reality, especially discovering contradictions and solution for settlement, and regime for political theory training for leaders at all levels. By making field visits cadres are able to study the reality, complement practical data to clarify unclear perceptions, and check theory through practice. New elements, good examples including exemplary collectives and individuals must be thoroughly analyzed and evaluated to disseminate and supplement theoretical knowledge. Good examples constitute advanced thinking style, and methods. Political theory training is a good space for practical review in the school environment, especially classes with the participation of senior leaders. It is necessary to innovate teaching methods, shifting from one-way knowledge transfer to encouraging debate, feedbacks from learners, interaction among learners so that they gain a certain amount of practical knowledge from this environment. Lecturers with their theoretical knowledge will help the learners have the right orientation in using experience knowledge and overcome empiricism when applying theory into practice.

Fifth, build capacity on practical review of party committees at all levels and build a contingent of core experts for practical review and theoretical research. As practical review is primarily the responsibility of the party committees at all levels, there is a need to build capacity for each member of the party committees, so that he/she is constantly conscious of practical review and theoretical improvement. Member of the party committees must build capacity in theoretical thinking and practical review. These two sides have dialectical relations with each other. Only by having theoretical thinking can cadres use empirical knowledge correctly and appropriately and overcome empiricism. Appropriately using empirical knowledge is a way to shorten the gap between theory and practice, not to use theory arbitrarily, exclude irrelevant solutions, receive feedback to adjust mechanisms, and policy. However, in order for practical review to be carried out in a professional manner, there is a need to build a contingent of core specialists. They come from the Central Theoretical Council, the party committees from the central to the local level. They must have profound understanding of theory, the reality, methods and skills in practical review. It is necessary to create conditions for them to make regular field visits, review models and movements, participate in political theory training, so that they are proactively and positively conscious of practical review in leadership, direction and administration. Adequate mechanisms and policies to reward core specialists must be implemented so that they can concentrate on their work, enhance their professional level and dedicate to theoretical research and practical review. It is necessary to build a data system and provide necessary tools and facilities to enable specialized cadres in practical review, theoretical and scientific research.


(1), (2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Truth, Hanoi, 2011, Vol. 7, pp. 127, 120
(3) K.Marx and F.Engels: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1995, Vol.3, pp. 9, 10
(4) V.I. Lenin: Complete Works, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, Vol. 29, p. 220
(5) See Prof. Nguyen Duc Binh’s article published in Nhan Dan Newspaper published on 4 June 1992
(6) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid., Vol.7, p. 124
(7) Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee of the 9th Congress, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2002, pp. 134-135
(8), (9) Documents of the 12th Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, pp. 200, 201
(10) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, ibid., Vol.7, p. 127

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 915 (January 2016)

Assoc. Prof. Doan Minh Huan, PhDAlternate member of the Party Central Committee, Editor-in-Chief of the Communist Review