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Political Platform – a theoretical and ideological banner leading the Vietnamese revolutionary cause
19/10/2010 14:45' Send Print

To gain a political name, every political party or organisation has to provide its members with directions while gathering support from the population. To achieve this, the party or organisation needs to have a platform or documents summarising its objectives, policies, missions and activities.

Since its inception, under different formats and names, the Communist Party of Vietnam has, on four occasions, issued its political platform or documents stating its position.

1. We must first mention the Brief Political Platform drafted by leader Nguyen Ai Quoc, later to become President Ho Chi Minh, and adopted at the conference which heralded in the Party’s arrival on the political scene in February 1930. Though it only contained 282 words, it clearly defined the basic issues relating to the strategy and policies of the Vietnamese revolution.

After analysing the social situation in Vietnam under the domination of the French and the feudal regime of the Nguyen dynasty in late 19th century and early 20th century, the Political Platform outlined the path for the Vietnamese revolution, which was "to carry out a democratic bourgeois revolution and land reform. This was to advance towards a communist society" meaning, ensuring a democratic and national revolution to advance to socialism and communism. The Platform pointed out the tasks, politically: to overthrow the French colonialists and feudalist regime, to make Vietnam independent, to set up a government from and for the workers, farmers and soldiers and to organize a worker-peasant army. Economically: to eliminate all national bonds, confiscate all major French assets (in industry, transportation and the banks) to hand over to the government, confiscate the land taken over by the French capitalists and Vietnamese landlords to hand over to poor peasants; annul all forms of taxes and tolls on impoverished peasants; expand the industrial and agricultural sectors; introduce an eight hour working day. Socially: people free to organise; men and women equal; universal education for all along the lines of an agro-industrialised nation.

As the author of the brief Political Platform, Nguyen Ai Quoc also drafted Brief Tactics, Brief Policy and Party Statutes as well as an Appeal which were all discussed and adopted at the conference that founded the Party. These documents stated that the Vietnamese Communist Party was the party of the proletariat. It was founded to help the proletariat lead the impoverished masses in the struggle to liberate oppressed and exploited people, to eliminate capitalists and imperialists and to realise communism. Those who believed in communism and the Party’s Platform were; energetic in that struggle; ready to sacrifice themselves and willing to observe Party’s orders. Those who were willing to pay membership and eager to better themselves were eligible to join the Party. Party members had the responsibility of promulgating communism and mobilizing the people to follow the Party. They had to take part in workers’ and peasants’ political and economic struggles and successfully implement the Party’s policies and resolutions. All those documents are precious. They defined the Party’s strategy and basic policies for the Vietnamese revolution and the guidelines, objectives, organisational principles and activities for the Party.

2. The Political Platform of the Indochinese Communist Party (also called The Platform of the bourgeois democratic revolution) drafted by Tran Phu, the first Party General Secretary, was adopted by a meeting of the Party Central Committee in October 1930. The 16-page Platform was drafted at an extremely difficult period of time. Besides the limited resources, the enemy launched a terror campaign to hunt down communists.

The document analysed the world situation and the Indochinese situation following World War I (1914-1918). It pointed out that in Indochina, acute class disputes were increasing between workers, peasants and other destitute people on one side and landlords, feudalists, imperialists and capitalists on the other. To settle those disputes, in Indochina there was only one way – to launch a revolution of national liberation. The Indochinese revolution was a bourgeois democratic revolution characterised by anti-imperialistic land reforms. The democratic bourgeois revolution was the pilot stage of the socialist revolution, to advance to socialist revolution without passing through capitalist development.

The democratic bourgeois revolution’s goals were to overthrow imperialists and feudalists and bring complete independence to Indochina. The formation of the worker-peasant government guaranteed the revolution’s success. The working and peasant classes were the revolution’s major drivers, of which the working class was also the leading class.

The core tasks of the democratic bourgeois revolution in Vietnam were to overthrow imperialists, feudalists and landlords, set up worker-peasant government and confiscate land occupied by foreign and Vietnamese landlords and churches to hand over to peasants. Land ownership belonged to the worker-peasant government. Foreign capitalists’ property should be confiscated and taxes and polls annulled. Accumulated taxes were levied. Working hours were 8 hours a day. Workers living conditions were to be improved. Indochina would be completely independent. National self-determination had to be recognised. A worker-peasant army had to be founded. Men and women were equal. Supporting the Soviet Union, allying with the working class around the world and with revolutionary movements in colonial and semi-colonial countries was also included.

The methods of struggle included strikes, shows of force, armed strikes and violent general strikes while demanding day-to-day benefits such as pay rises, shorter working hours and less tax and the removal of other taxes to serve the Party’s bigger aims. Those aims were to overthrow imperialists, feudalists and landlords, to seize independence and set up a worker-peasant government. Consideration should be given to armed violence to avoid spontaneity and a badly prepared struggle. In this vital struggle close relations with the world revolution was essential.

Regarding the Party’s leadership, the Political Platform pointed out the need to have a communist Party founded on correct political lines, with strict discipline, close relations with the people and practical experience in the fight against the enemy – a decisive factor for the success of the Indochinese revolution. The document said that the Party was the vanguard of the proletariat, had Marxism-Leninism as its roots and was the key and long-term representative of the proletariat. It lead the way in the struggle to achieve communism.

The contents reflected the basic objectives, missions and methods of resistance used by the Indochinese Communist Party. They reiterated and complemented the core issues of Vietnam’s revolutionary path, written in the Brief Political Platform adopted in February 1930.

3. The Political Platform of the Vietnam Workers' Party – one of the former names of the Communist Party of Vietnam – developed by President Ho Chi Minh and Party General Secretary Truong Chinh, and adopted at the Second Party Congress in February, 1951, consisted of 15 pages divided into three chapters. Chapter One analysed the situation in Viet Nam and the world. Chapter Two analysed Vietnamese society and the revolution. Chapter Three contained the policies of the Vietnam Workers' Party.

The Political Platform maintained that after World War II, the world was divided into two blocks: the anti-imperialist democratic block led by the Soviet Union and the anti-democratic bloc lead by the US. The core task of the working class and world people was to fight to defend peace. The peace movement was its highest point ever in history. The people’s democratic and national revolution became a popular phenomena and the goal of colonial and dependent countries. It shook imperialist system to the roots and Vietnam was a shining star in Southeast Asia’s democratic bloc; the Vietnamese revolution was an integral part of the world’s national liberation movement for peace and democracy.

In Vietnam, the Political Platform pointed out that before the French domination, Vietnamese society was a feudalist society in which the peasant class was fully exploited. When under French rule, Vietnam was a semi-feudal society. Its working class was formed and grew up quickly. Vietnamese capitalism came into being but was suppressed hence it could not grow. When the Japanese fascists invaded Vietnam, the French colonial regime in Vietnam became more fascism-oriented which heaped more misery on the Vietnamese.

Thus, the core tasks of the Vietnamese revolution were to wipe out all imperialists invaders, wrestle back genuine unification and independence, eliminate feudalist and semi-feudalist vestiges, allot land to peasant farmers, develop people’s democracy and lay the foundations for socialism. The drivers of the Vietnamese revolution during this period were workers, peasants, urban pretty-bourgeoisie, bourgeois intellectuals, nationalist capitalists, patriotic and progressive academics. The core force were the workers, peasants, intellectuals with the working class as their leaders. The document declared that the Vietnamese revolution was a people's national democratic revolution with socialism as its goal. However, the immediate task of the Party was to concentrate on liberating the nation from French domination.

The Political Platform laid out the Party’s policies, which were to fulfill the cause of national liberation, eliminate feudalism, develop people’s democracy and advance to socialism. It also elaborated on the Party’s policy on the war of resistance, which were to carry out a protracted, comprehensive people’s war to win national independence and unification. The people’s democratic administration would be built and together with the National United Front rally the workers, peasants and intellectuals in an alliance led by the working class.

The Vietnam Workers’ Party was united with other parties, organisations and academics in the National United Front with the principles of unity, good faith, united action and long-term cooperation.

The document also outlined the principle stance on issues such as building up the army, economic and financial development, land reform, educational and cultural development, policies on religions and temporarily occupied regions, ethnic minorities and overseas Vietnamese and foreign policy. On diplomatic relations, the Political Platform confirmed the principle of respect for other countries’ independence, territorial sovereignty, national reunification and preservation of world peace and democracy, close solidarity with the Soviet Union and China and other people’s democratic countries, as well as the Cambodian and Laotian peoples. It also advocated expanding the people’s diplomacy, amity with any government that showed respect for Vietnam’s sovereignty and the establishment of diplomatic relations with these countries with the principles of freedom, equality and mutual benefit in the struggle for world peace.

4. In June 1991, a 22-page Political Platform on building up the country in the transitional period toward socialism (the 1991 Platform) was adopted at the seventh National Party Congress. This was when the Soviet bloc had collapsed and many Communist Parties were in a state of ideological impasse and under fierce attack from their enemies. Vietnam was facing a socio-economic crisis and confidence in the Party from a number of officials, Party members and working people was swaying.

Against this background, the 1991 Political Platform summarised the Vietnamese revolution and pointed out ways and solutions to comprehensively renew the country and put it on the path to socialism.

Analysing the international situation, the document noted that the most striking characteristics then were complicated class and national struggles by many nations for peace, independence, democracy and social progress. Socialism was faced with many difficulties and challenges. Though world history underwent ups and downs, humankind was certain to advance to socialism as it was the law of historical development.

Referring to the objectives and characteristics of socialism in Vietnam, the document stated clearly that the nation belonged to the working people and had an advanced economy based on modern production methods and public ownership of key enterprises.

It also stated that Vietnam had and its own individual highly developed culture. People were free from oppression, exploitation and inequality, worked according to their abilities and enjoyed the fruits of their toil. People had a full life with freedom and happiness.

The document added that ethnic groups of Vietnam should be equal and united and help each other to progressive develop. It said that Vietnam desired good relationships and co-operation with people the world over.

The Political Platform also noted that the transitional period towards socialism in Vietnam would be a long and arduous process in many stages. The overall objectives at the end of the transitional period were to basically build an economic foundation for socialism with the appropriate political, ideological and cultural superstructure, to turn Vietnam into a prosperous socialist state.

To achieve these objectives and tasks, the Platform emphasised that we needed to continue enhancing self-reliance and self-strengthening, to bring into play the people’s wisdom and resources, expand international cooperation and relations. Appropriate steps, methods and measures were taken to successfully build socialism. The most important thing was to fundamentally improve the country’s less-developed socio-economy and overcome obstacles, primarily hostile forces which opposed national independence and socialism.

It said that while building socialism and defending the homeland, it was imperative to thoroughly understand the following directions:

The first direction was to build a socialist state, a state of the people, by the people and for the people, in which an alliance of the working class, peasants and intellectuals would be the core foundation and the people’s democracy would be fully enforced. Social order was to be strictly abided by. Dictatorship over violations of the people’s and country’s interests were imposed

The second was to develop production while industrialising the nation and modernising agricultural production. A key mission was to gradually build the material and technical foundations for socialism and to constantly improve social labour efficiency and people's living conditions.

The third was to develop production and then step by step create a socialist based industrial sector, from low to high levels with different forms of ownership. Socialist-oriented, multi-sectoral, consumer economy operated according to market mechanism and under the State’s management. State and collective economic sectors became the foundation of the national economy. Methods of distribution were varied and creating jobs and economic efficiency were the major criteria.

The fourth was to implement the socialist revolution in the fields of ideology and culture to raise people's awareness of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's morality and thoughts. The cultural traditions of ethnic groups were inherited and promoted. Humankind’s cultural essence was to be assimilated. A democratic and civilised society for the genuine interest and dignity of the people and high level of knowledge, morality physical fitness, and aesthetics was built. Ideology and culture that ran counter to the nation’s traditions, socialism and humanitarian values were to be done away with.

The fifth was to carry out a policy of national solidarity, to consolidate and expand the National United Front, to garner every force for the cause of a strong nation and a prosperous people while having peace, diplomacy, co-operation and friendship with all countries. This policy also included loyalty to the working class’ internationalism, solidarity with socialist countries and forces that struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress around the world.

The sixth stated that the two strategic tasks of the Vietnamese revolution were to build socialism and defend the homeland. While considering national construction the primary task, the Vietnamese people stayed vigilant, consolidating national defence, political security, law and order, social security and protecting the Fatherland and revolutionary achievements.

And finally, the overall aim was stated as building a pure and strong Party in politics, ideology and organisation to enable it to fulfill its leading role in the cause of the socialist revolution in Vietnam. The Party should renovate, rectify and heighten its wisdom and leading capacity, preserve unity and solidarity within the Party and enforce democracy and discipline. Self-criticism and criticism, and opposition to individualism, opportunism and any signs of division and sectarianism should be stepped up. Attention should be given to build a contingent of clean and capable cadres and party members. The Party should also foster and train successors for the Party’s and nation’s revolutionary cause

Reviewing the main contents of the Party's Political Platforms since its inception in 1930, we can say that each Political Platform, although having its own specific needs, reflected the situation and revolutionary missions in different stages. Generally speaking, all the documents clearly and consistently expressed the principle points of view and ideology of the Party on objectives, strategic tasks, directions and methods to be used during the Vietnamese revolution.

They were to fight for and protect national independence and unification, to build Vietnam into a democratic and prosperous nation, a fair and civilised society where people enjoyed a life of plenty, freedom and happiness, and to be on par with other countries.

It is imperative to hold high and be steadfast to the goals of national independence and socialism, as they are the red thread crossing the revolutionary course of the nation. Building socialism and defending the homeland were the two strategic tasks that are closely related.

It is also imperative to mobilise every resource and gather the strength from people from all walks of life, with the worker-peasant-intellectual alliance as the core, because the people are the ones who make history.

The strength of the Party is generated from its close relationship with the people. Any party activity must stem from the interests and needs of the people. To consolidate unity within the Party, the people and the nation must be exercised constantly.

Unity is a precious tradition, a source of strength and the driving force of the Vietnamese revolution. The combination of national strength with the strength of the times, between domestic and international strengths, national traditions with the world's cultural quintessence were also important for the country.

It is imperative to ensure and maintain the Party leadership; to build a party that is clean and strong, politically and ideologically. The foundation of the party must be based on Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thoughts and on the principles of democracy with the people as its roots.

These are the key factors deciding the survival of the Party and the success of the revolution. In addition it is important to prevent and fight against any likelihood of making decisions detrimental to the party or bureaucracy or that degrades cadres and party members.

Each political platform of the Party was developed through comprehensive understanding and creative application of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thoughts as well as the fine cultural traditions of the Vietnamese nation. They truthfully reflected national realities with reference to lessons learned from other countries. Practical and scientific, they responded to the urgent needs of the revolution at each stage and the aspirations of the population.

Each platform was of important historic significance and practical values. Each directed the country’s development and served as a beacon for all Party activities and people. While leading the Vietnamese revolution and guiding the implementation of the Political Platforms, the Party’s awareness and thinking were elevated to a higher level. The Party's points of view and guidelines have constantly been improved to respond to the development of the times and the needs of the country.

The Communist Party of Vietnam has developed a basic theoretical system about the Vietnamese revolution, about socialism and the path towards socialism. This complements the stance of Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thoughts.

Thanks to thoroughly understanding and strictly implementing the Party’s Political Platforms and other important documents, since its establishment it “has upheld the revolutionary banner and rallied and led the people in the cause of national and class liberation.

The red Party flag is as bright as the rising sun which tears away the darkness and shows the way for people to advance triumphantly in the fight against imperialism and feudalism.” In the past 80 years, under the Party’s leadership, our people have conducted a long and arduous struggle, overcome many difficulties and challenges and won many great victories.

They included the August Revolution in 1945, which led to the birth of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the first worker-peasant state in Southeast Asia. The birth of the republic contributed to a complete change in Vietnamese society and led the country into an era of independence and freedom.

Victories in the wars of resistance against foreign invaders for national liberation ensured a successful national democratic revolution and national unification. These victories contributed greatly to the struggle of peoples around the world for peace, independence, democracy and social progress.

Victories in the renovation and in industrialisation, modernisation and international integration helped Vietnam to come closer to socialism with new and appropriate thinking. Given these victories gained over the past 80 years, Vietnam, once a colonial and semi-feudal country, is now an independent and free nation advancing towards socialism.

Our people, once slaves, have now become masters of their own country. Together with modernisation and industrialisation, this has improved Vietnam's prestige regionally and internationally. A bright future is ahead of us.

These victories have testified to the correct and creative guidelines and the firm stance of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The Political Platforms of the Party are of great significance and strong. The path forward for our revolution conforms to objective law and responds to the real situation in Vietnam.

However, each platform, as well as other theoretical works were products of a particular historical period. Some points in the works are out of date which is easy to understand as they were the dialectics of development.

In its leadership role, the Party has sometimes made mistakes, even serious ones, due to dogmatism, subjectiveness, wishful thinking or violations of objective rules. We have to accept that the understanding of the Party is still limited and so are some of its theories, particularly those that relate to new and difficult issues.

But what's more important is that the Party has admitted its mistakes and taken corrective measures. Our country has been carrying out the renewal process for more than 20 years. The internal and external situations are sometimes very challenging and the road towards socialism for Vietnam remains unique and without any world precedents. That's why we have to take precautions and learn while we go.

In that spirit, the 10th National Party Congress held in April 2006 decided to continue to study, review, complement and develop the Political Platform adopted at the 1991 National Party Congress. The outcomes will be presented to the 11th National Party Congress to be held next year for consideration and approval.

The revised platform will become the cornerstone of all politics and ideology for the Party, Government and people on the path towards socialism.

Hopefully, with the achievements and experiences gained during the past 80 years under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, we'll complete the Party's points of view and political guidelines in response to the requirements of new stages in the revolution.

Nguyen Phu Trong