Theory and Reality
A philosophy perspective on people’s democratic regime from Ho Chi Minh’s ideology
9:49' 28/12/2010

Editor-In studying Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, we clearly realize his viewpoint on the three stages in the development of the Vietnamese revolution: national liberation, construction of people’s democratic regime, and marching to socialism. Of which the construction of people democratic regime is a thorough step not only to demolish remnants of the old regime-colonial and feudal regime but also to establish basis and foundation for the socialism-a new society with higher level of development. The people democratic regime is an objective necessity in the development course of Vietnamese society.



Editor-In studying Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, we clearly realize his viewpoint on the three stages in the development of the Vietnamese revolution: national liberation, construction of people’s democratic regime, and marching to socialism. Of which the construction of people democratic regime is a thorough step not only to demolish remnants of the old regime-colonial and feudal regime but also to establish basis and foundation for the socialism-a new society with higher level of development. The people democratic regime is an objective necessity in the development course of Vietnamese society.

I – The people’s democratic regime is the full demolishment of the colonial and feudal regime. In his address at the first meeting of the provisional Government of the new Vietnamese State (on 3rd September 1945), President Ho Chi Minh raised pressing tasks which had to be carried out: first, under the colonialism, in order to serve their political and military purposes, French colonists and Japanese imperialists had caused a great famine to our people. Under our new regime, we launched a campaign of increasing production and the fund raising movement to help needy people survive; second, under the colonialism, illiteracy was one of cruel methods employed by colonialists to rule our people and make our nation weak while under our new regime we lauched a campaign to eradicate illiteracy among people as we wanted our nation strong; third, under the colonial and feudal regime, our people did not enjoy democracy and freedom while in our regime, our people are entitled to freedom and democracy. That right was first excercised with their participattion in the general election of National Assembly by universal suffrage, and the then elected National Assembly passed our first and democratic constitution; fourth, the colonial regime resorted to all means to degenerate our nation through various forms such as bad habits, laziness, shiftiness, embezzlement etc whereas our new regime fosters a brave, patriotic, industrious nation needed for an independent country. Therefore, we carried out a campaign to re-educate the spirit of our people through the principle of industriousness-thrift-righteousness and benevolence; fifth, the colonial regime employed inhumane exploitation through poll tax, market tax and ferry fees which were immediately abolished under our regime according to our humane nature; sixth, the colonial and feudal regime drove a wedge between non-religious and religious people. Our regime applied the policy of freedom of belief and unity between religious and non-religious people.

In his important address, President Ho Chi Minh emphasized the opposition between the new and old things, between life and death, development and non-development, having rights and non-having rights, humanity and inhumanity, healthiness and degeneration, unity and division. They were absolute and comprehensive contrariness. In a number of other speeches and articles given later, President Ho Chi Minh also used such contrary method to illustrate his ideas. For example, in his letter sent to people’s committees of regions, provinces, districts and villages in October 1945, President Ho Chi Minh wrote: “We should understand that the Government agencies across the country down to villages are public servants of the people and vested with tasks of doing public work for the people, and not to bully the people like in the period under the ruling of French colonialists and Japanese imperialists.” (1). The contrary feature mentioned here is the concept of public servant and the nature of bullying people in the old social regime.

Thus, in Ho Chi Minh’s thinking, after the success of the August Revolution, the coming into existence of the people’s democratic regime turned into an undeniable reality. But it was not a complete and comprehensive reality. In early 1946, Ho Chi Minh said: “The old ruling apparatus was abolished, but the new democratic practice has not fully come yet” (2). The coming into existence of the new social regime is a process in which some features of the old social regime still exist, (such as the existence of landlords and the relationship between landlords and peasants), and as the consequence, there exists a fierce struggle between the new things and the old things. In this struggle, if having enough strength, new things will win over old things and confirm their status. The victory of new elements makes the full existence of new social regime. The mentioned three stages of the formation and development of things was generalized by the famous dialetical philosopher G.V.F. Hegel in three concepts: reality, existence-for-others, and existence-for-oneself. V.I. Lenin highly appreciated the said three concepts and saw it as dialectic representation of idea about the objective dialectic reality.

Characters of a new social regime were formed in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts through, first of all, the method of transforming features of old regime into its contrary facets. It was the dialectical thinking method. According to this method, the process of formulating the people’s democratic regime in reality was considered the process of wiping out comprehensively fundamental features of colonial-feudal regime.

One can see clearly that Ho Chi Minh thought of people’s democratic regime in Vietnam according to such a dialectic thinking method without using Hegel’s concepts. It can be said that in Ho Chi Minh’s thinking, features of a new social regime was formed first in thoughts through the thinking process of transforming characters of the old social regime into its opposite elements. This is exactly the dialectic thinking. Lenin highly appreciated dialectic thinking of Spinoza when he stated the clause: “Omnis determinatio est negatio” (all regulations are negation). With such thinking method, the process of forming people’s democratic regime in practice is considered a process of disclaiming absolutely and comprehensively all fundamental features of colonial-feudal regime.

Hence, in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, people’s democratic regime was first the denial all remnants – the denial stage was started and completed in part in the August Revolution.

II – Socialist regime came into existence from the people’s democratic regime.

In Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, the relationship between people’s democratic regime and socialist regime were reflected in two aspects.

First, people’s democratic regime was not socialist regime. The key difference here was the ownership of production means. In people’s democratic regime, private ownership of production means of a few people was rejected in order to establish the ownership of the many. This viewpoint of Ho Chi Minh was clearly presented in the comparison of ownership of production means in people’s democratic regime and that in socialist regime: peasants have paddy land. Is it communism or socialism? It is not. In communism or socialism ownership does not exist. In the contrary, the viewpoint “peasants have paddy land” turned tens of million peasants into private owners of farm land etc. This was truly a democratic policy (3).

Certainly, there were other differences, but the difference of ownership of production means was accompanied by different modes of production was the essential notion. In his work of Politic rudiments (1953), when referring to economic character of characters of a new democracy”, Ho Chi Minh pointed out “five economic categories”: A- State economic sector (belonging to socialism as it was owned by the people); B- cooperatives (it was half of socialist nature and would develop into full socialist economic entities); C- economy of individuals, peasants, and handicraftsmen (would develop into cooperatives which was half of socialist nature); D- private capitalism; E- State capitalism (State shared capital with private capitalists to do business). These five economic sectors relied on different types of ownership and thus differed from socialist economy, although the germ of socialist economy had already occurred. Talking about it in modern language the economy of people’s democratic regime is a socialist-oriented multi-sector economy. One can say that because Ho Chi Minh emphasized: “in these five categories, A category is the leading and dominant one and fastest developing one. Hence our economy will develop according to socialist orientation, not capitalist direction” (4).

The view on the differences between people’s democratic regime and socialist regime was affirmed by out Party. The political platform of Vietnam Labor Party was clearly stated at Party Congress (II Tenure – 1951): “The people’s democratic revolution is neither an old-type capitalist democratic revolution nor socialist revolution, it is a new-type capitalist democratic revolution which will evolve into socialist revolution without experiencing a revolutionary civil war” (5). The difference between the people’s democratic regime and socialist regime, and the evolution from people’s democratic regime to socialist regime was further proved in the revolutionary document of Vietnam presented by Comrade Truong Chinh at the II Party Congress (II Tenure).

Second, people’s democratic regime was not socialist regime, but the socialist regime in Vietnam would sprout inside the people’s democratic regime. It is the most fundamental viewpoint in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts. We all know that, our Party considered the North of Vietnam entered into the transitional stage to socialism since 1954. President Ho Chi Minh agreed with this view. Entering transitional stage to socialism meant the start of building the basis of socialism and going toward socialism”. According to Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, it was the transitional period to socialism from people’s democratic regime. Sine 1945 to his death, Ho Chi Minh always affirmed that our regime was people’s democratic regime, especially in political aspect. In the period from 1954 to 1955, Ho Chi Minh in many time repeated that “our regime is a democratic regime” or “our country is a democratic state”. In 1964 - 1965, Ho Chi Minh continued affirming that “our regime is a democratic regime in which people are the masters”.

Apparently, socialist regime was higher developed period which could only come from other regime-people’s democratic regime. In other word, people’s democratic regime was the low development period and would certainly evolve into another form-socialist regime. This was a dialectic relationship which reflected a typical logic in the development and evolution of Vietnamese society. The coming into existence of socialist regime from another form was a qualitative change in the development and evolution of Vietnamese society. Thus, Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts reflected the movement in two stages of modern Vietnamese society. The first stage associated with success of the August Revolution and the coming into existence of people’s democratic regime. The second state was evolution from people’s democratic regime to socialist regime. The entire process of movement of society qualitative forward steps toward a higher development level-socialist regime and communism.

Going deeper into Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on the development from people’s democratic regime to socialist regime, there emerging some viewpoints:

First, Vietnam would move toward socialism. The higher development level of people’s democratic regime would be reflected in progress of mastering capacity of the people, the level of improvement of the State apparatus and legal system as the instruments of people’s power. In addition to development in politic aspects, the development of people’s democratic regime could be seen in economic, cultural and social aspects.

Second, the development from people’s democratic regime to socialist regime would be the qualitative movement which could only accomplish in a process consisting a number steps. The length of this process would depend on efforts of the entire nation. Ho Chi Minh in many time affirmed this view, such as: “Socialism can not be quickly built, in the contrary, it must be a gradual process”(6); “In short, marching toward socialism is not the matter of one or two days”(7).

The people’s democratic regime was not socialist regime. However, the socialist regime in Vietnam came into existence from the people’s democratic regime. It is one fundamental viewpoint of Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts. It is clearly that, socialist regime is a higher developed stage and can only come into being from other form, rather than itself-the people’s democratic regime. It is a dialectic relationship which reflects typical logic in the movement and development of Vietnamese society. The coming into being of the socialist regime from other form is indeed a qualitative transformation in the movement and development of Vietnamese society.

Third, marching to socialism from people’s democratic regime would be a huge process of both transformation and construction in all areas and relationships of social life. When emphasizing the fundamental feature of socialist regime which was public ownership of production means, he meant the first transformation should be focused on production relations. The reference to the transformation of production relations aiming at abolishing private ownership and promoting the sole dominant role State ownership of production means in the production relations by Ho Chi Minh in the construction of socialism was a matter of fact. However, one should also note that Ho Chi Minh at the same time further emphasized the objective of the transformation of production relations – the increase of production and thriftiness or in other word the development of production. The transformation of production relations was not the final objective, it was merely the mode of developing production in order to realize the goal of “constantly improving material and spiritual lives of the people”. Indeed, in the whole process of thinking about the people’s democratic regime, Ho Chi Minh always considered the development of production as the driving force for social development. Ho Chi Minh wrote: “Increasing production and practicing thriftiness are two key measures for restoring the economy, developing culture, gradually improving people’s life, strengthening the North and supporting the South, and enhancing forces for the struggle to unify our country. Increasing production and practicing thriftiness are two necessary measures for developing the people’s democratic regime and gradually marching toward socialism”(8). The logic in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts was clearly reflected here. Objective was the determinant while the mode of implementation was merely the supporting dependent instrument. What mode of implementation proved appropriate and helped achieving the objective should be selected and vice versa. This viewpoint on the typical relationship between the objective and mode of implementation proposed by Ho Chi Minh provided the methodological basis for our Party to timely adjust the method employed for achieving objectives and goals set forth, and thus open the door for renovation.

Fourth, in order to ensure the development of production and the stable transition from the people’s democratic regime to socialist regime, the strengthening of the State apparatus was the matter of important task. Ho Chi Minh wrote: “Our task is to constantly reinforce people’s administration and people’s organizations at local levels. If the people’s administration and people’s organizations are weak and loosely organized, then policies of the Party and Government would randomly be implemented. Thus, it is necessary to strengthen the people’s administration and people’s organizations, of which special attention should be given to the police, militia and guerillas forces as they are vested with the task of maintaining security and social order at localities. Only when security and order are maintained, people may live and work in peace and increase production”(9).

Strengthening people’s administration was first to reinforce and promote the leading position of the Communist Party – the vanguard of working people. Strengthening people’s administration and using people’s administration as the power instrument of the people to ensure the stability for economic, social development was a dialectic viewpoint of Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on the relationship between politics and economy.

Fifth, the transitional process from people’s democratic regime to socialist regime happened in all aspects of social life. However, the transformation in other aspects should turn around economic aspect or more specifically promoted production development. With regard to culture, Ho Chi Minh pointed out: “Culture should serve production and thriftiness, the people, national unity and the motherland. It is necessary to build and develop fine customs and practices which manifest the unity, mutual amicableness in developing production and practicing thriftiness”(10). With regard to education, he said: “Eradicating illiteracy is the first step in improving educational level which in turn will help enhancing the economic recovery and develop democracy. Improving educational level of the people is a necessary task to build our country a peaceful, unified, independent, democratic and prosperous nation”(11). In education, special attention should be given to young generations. Giving due education to young generations was the approach of building the future from the present time. It was a standing viewpoint in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts. All came from and for production development. Viewing production as the foundation and driving force for movement and development of society by Ho Chi Minh was the stand of historical materialism of Marxism-Leninism. Ho Chi Minh himself clearly and fully realized this point. He clearly saw the crossing between the Marxism-Leninism and the highly appreciated working ethic in Vietnamese tradition. He referred to a very simple saying: Food before philosophy. It was dialectic in nature and root source of Marxism-Leninism. Anyone wished to have food should work. Our Party was not the Party of mandarins, instead it had to take care of people’s lives and foremost the production. It was apparently in reality, production was the foundation of social life. When this reality was generalized into theory, it became the original view of Marxism-Leninism in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts. If one does not rely on this original view when studying Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, then one may easily make a mistaken deviation.

Thus, in Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts, people’s democratic regime was not only the step of fully abolishing remnants of colonial-feudal regime, but also the environment and conditions for socialism to come into existence./.

 
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(1), (2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2004, Volume 4, pp 56, 165

(3),(4) Ho Chi Minh: Op cit, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2004, Volume 7, pp 210, 248; (5) Documents of Party Congress: Complete works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2000, Volume 12, p. 434

(6),(7) Ho Chi Minh: Op cit, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2004, Volume 8, pp 226, 228

(8), (9), (10), (11) Ho Chi Minh: Op cit, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2004, Volume 8, pp 349 412 - 413, 405, 281 – 282

Lai Quoc Khanh
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