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Ton Duc Thang - An excellent upholder of the thought on national solidarity

“He was the greatest representative of the solidarity policy laid down by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh.”(1) The article discusses how Ton Duc Thang applied Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great solidarity to building the national solidarity front in Vietnam.

 

(President Ton Duc Thang (L) listening to tactics to defeat B52 airplanes _ Photo: VNA)

A talented organizer of the national solidarity Front

Ton Duc Thangwas not randomly chosen but was predestined to be the leader, devoting more than 30 years developing the national solidarity front in Vietnam.

After the August Revolution succeeded, he was released from Con Dao prison. In early 1946, the Party and President Ho Chi Minh entrusted him with establishing the Vietnam National Alliance (Lien Viet). As Vice President of the Alliance, he was responsible for attracting patriotic elements who had not joined the Viet Minh Front yet. The birth of Lien Viet reinforced national solidarity and revolutionary forces, contributing to safeguarding the achievements of the revolution in an extremely critical situation due to domestic and foreign hostile forces.

After Huynh Thuc Khang, President of the Alliance, passed away in 1947, Ton Duc Thang replaced him to be in charge of the Alliance.

In 1948, the Party advocated one nation and one national solidarity front in order to unite different revolutionary forces in Vietnam for the cause of resistance and national construction. Ton Duc Thang was tasked with uniting Lien Viet and the Viet Minh Front.

In March 1951, after careful preparation, the union of Lien Viet and the Viet Minh Front completed, giving rise to the Lien Viet Front. Ton Duc Thang became President of the Front, which not only represented quantitative but also qualitative growth of the national solidarity front in Vietnam. This contributed significantly to changing the balance of power between Vietnamese and enemy forces so the Party could bring the prolonged resistance to a new stage, where it expected to end French invasion. The Dien Bien Phu victory in 1954, which put an end to the nine-year struggle against the French, was the result of the growing maturity of the Lien Viet Front led by the Party in general and Ton Duc Thang in particular.

After the victory of the anti-French resistance, the country’s revolution was confronted with a new situation, where the peaceful north began to establish socialism and the south continued to fight against American invasion. The new situations and tasks of the revolutions in each region affected the unity of revolutionary forces in the country. The Lien Viet Front was renamed the Vietnam Fatherland Front in September 1955. Ton Duc Thang continued to be President of the Central Committee of the Front.

Given the different situations and revolutionary tasks in the two halves of the country, Ton Duc Thang, at the Party’s 3rd congress in September 1960, analyzed the Party’s guidelines on establishing a national solidarity front in the south, which was, in essence, a democratic national front. He recommended the southern front leaders draw up a suitable platform based on the platform of the Vietnam Fatherland Front. In December 1960, the Southern Vietnam Liberation National Front was established with lawyer Nguyen Huu Tho being its President. The Front provided political foundations for stronger revolutionary movements in the south.

At the 2nd and 3rd Vietnam Fatherland Front Congresses in 1961 and 1971 respectively, Ton Duc Thang was elected President of its Central Committee.

As the American resistance was victorious, uniting different front organizations together into a single one representing the country was the entire population’s aspirations and a requirement for building a unified Vietnam. In February 1977, the Vietnam United National Front Congress merged the different front organizations in the country together into the Vietnam Fatherland Front. This represented a new development in the country’s national solidarity front, which was made possible by Ton Duc Thang. With his excellent contribution in establishing great national solidarity, despite his age, he was elected as honorary President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front and remained in the post until he passed away in 1980.

During his 30 years carrying assignments given by the Party and President Ho Chi Minh, Ton Duc Thang devoted himself to establishing national solidarity, rallying all patriotic forces, making the best of the country’s domestic strength, thus contributing significantly to the cause of national and human liberation and driving Vietnam on a socialist path. Ton Duc Thang was a talented organizer of the national solidarity front in Vietnam.

Ton Duc Thang was the one who enriched Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great solidarity        

Ton Duc Thang’s great success as an organizer and promoter of the national solidarity in Vietnam came as a result of his correct application of Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great solidarity. Based on the country’s situations and by using his intellectual strength and sincere heart, Ton Duc Thang, as a leader, managed to promote Ho Chi Minh’s thought on establishing great national solidarity.

Firstly, amid constant changes in the historical conditions of the nation and the times, Ton Duc Thang was able to apply correctly Ho Chi Minh’s thought on promoting patriotism and national solidarity and enrich it. He contributed to building up the country’s revolutionary forces by successfully establishing a nationwide solidarity front during both national liberation in wartime and national construction in peacetime.

Accordingly, he handled correctly the relationship between the nation and classes and that between anti-imperialist and anti-feudalist tasks in establishing a national solidary front in the country. In his closing speech to the Party’s 2nd congress in February 1951, Ton Duc Thang pointed out, “At present, the central task is to defeat the imperialist invaders and complete national liberation. However, that is not the only task.

While fighting the foreign imperialists, we must reduce feudalist exploitation, weaken feudalist forces and develop people’s democracy. By developing people’s democracy, we more or less sow the seeds of socialism. However, all these tasks must serve our fight against the imperialist invaders.

It is wrong to think that anti-imperialist and anti-feudalist tasks are equally important in the current period or when the resistance has yet to succeed.

It is also wrong to think that the revolution needs to deal with the imperialists now and the feudalists in a later period”(2).

Secondly, in the country’s specific conditions, a comprehensive analysis of social relations for clarification and correct handling of the relationship between national and democratic tasks provided the ideological basis for identifying “commonalities of the entire nation and objectives of the struggle for the interests of workers, farmers and other walks of life”(3) as Ho Chi Minh said. This aimed to develop suitable policies for great national solidarity and expansion of revolutionary forces in the country.

The commonalities Ton Duc Thang considered necessary to rally all patriotic and democratic forces around the realization of national solidarity in the Lien Viet Front for the ultimate victory of the French resistance included “solidarity and oneness of minds for national independence, public democracy and world peace”(4).           

In order to establish great national solidarity in the new situation where the French resistance succeeded but the country remained temporarily divided into two halves, Ton Duc Thang pointed out, “Our common stance embodies peace, unification, independence and democracy. Our common objective is national and public interests”(5).

Correct settlement of the relationship between the nation and classes was reflected in the identification of commonalities in establishing a dictatorial democratic people’s state in Vietnam. Ton Duc Thang asserted, “Our State takes the form of a people’s democratic republic. It is in substance a people’s democratic dictatorship, which is in essence a workers’ and farmers’ dictatorship”. However, according to him, “our institution is not identical to a workers’ and farmers’ dictatorship because in such dictatorship only workers, farmers and the petty bourgeoisie are politically engaged whereas in a people’s democratic dictatorship political participation is open to all classes including workers, farmers, the petty bourgeoisie, nationalist capitalists and the patriotic and progressive upper class. It would be narrow-minded and incorrect to describe our state as a workers’ and farmers’ dictatorship”(6).   

Correct settlement of the relationship between the nation and classes also referred to the struggle for the interests of workers, farmers and other social classes. This provided the basis for developing class policies to ensure the country’s permanent solidarity and common interests. Explaining this issue, Ton Duc Thang affirmed, “Our Front’s policy is one of class alliance for the sake of the resistance rather than pure class alliance. Once such alliance aims to serve the resistance, conflicts or interests among the classes must be reasonably settled. However, we always attach special importance to the interests of the working people and the masses because they form the foundation of the united national front and the major force of the resistance”(7). This stance was concretely reflected in the settlement of the farm land issue during the democratic national revolution, which Ton Duc Thang believed should be conducted gradually and within limits in order to match the development of the revolution because “such limits mean to ensure national solidarity and prolonged resistance”(8).

Although emphasizing class alliance, Ton Duc Thang noted that within such broad gathering, “it is necessary to strengthen worker - farmer alliance in order to win the support of other classes. Otherwise it’d be hard to win the support of workers and farmers and even if we manage to do so, the front wouldn’t have a firm foundation”(9).

Thirdly, the Party laid down the revolutionary line with the aim of liberating the Vietnamese nation and people. Such correct line was also the strategy for building up revolutionary forces and for uniting the entire population in a single front led and organized by the Party for achievement of revolutionary objectives. Therefore, organizing revolutionary forces by establishing a national solidarity front was the strategy that decided successful realization of revolutionary tasks in the country. Ton Duc Thang pointed out, “Whatever locality or sector succeeds with the Front-related work will be able to carry out its other work smoothly. Otherwise, it will encounter difficulties. Therefore, unlike someone’s misunderstanding, the Front-related work must be conducted by the entire Party rather than only by the Front itself”(10). He affirmed that while one was doing the Front-related work, it was necessary for him or her to “emphasize the Party’s leadership which cannot be shared with anyone else or be overshadowed”(11).

Ton Duc Thang pointed out that the most important factor in establishing the national solidarity front was solidarity within the Party because “once there is internal solidarity, the implementation of guidelines or policies will be smooth”. Such solidarity did not only lie in the unanimity of action and thinking as to the implementation of the Party’s policy but also in mutual respect, affection, assistance and care amongst Party members. He said that “the only way that helps us fulfill that wish is to criticize ourselves and our friends in a friendly manner”(12).

On the other hand, he recommended, “our Party should have good relations with the masses, rally different classes and walks of life around itself and make them understand that only by trusting and supporting the Party can they be victorious”(13). For the Front - a political alliance between social classes, organizations and individuals in
society - to operate efficiently, the Party, apart from developing correct guidelines and policies, should adopt democratic working methods so every member of the Front could participate in deciding on unanimous action. Ton Duc Thang stated, “As to working methods at Vietnam Fatherland Front committees,… in regard to common work, we need to discuss it democratically with non-party members and listen to their opinions. We appreciate those with justified opinions and provide clarification for those with unjustified ones. We also need to practice friendship and self-criticism within the Front”(14). He pointed out that “in relating with our allies, we must be united with them in order to sustain our revolution, and we must struggle for higher levels of solidarity with them. It’s impossible to develop one-sided solidarity or stop struggling. It’s also impossible to struggle against our principles because that can badly affect solidarity”(15). However, he recommended “struggling within the Front in a beneficial, justifiable and reasonable manner so as to direct our attacks at the imperialist invaders”(16).

Such was Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great solidarity Ton Duc Thang applied to the establishment and expansion of the national solidarity front during the different revolutionary periods in the country.

An example of a leader in national solidarity

During his 30-year leadership of the national solidarity front, Ton Duc Thang won the respect and trust of various social classes with his organizing talent, intellectual capacity and revolutionary morality. He was an example of “a great patriot, staunch communist, beloved leader of the working class and ethnic groups and one of President Ho Chi Minh’s close comrades,” who devoted his whole life to fighting for the country’s independence and people’s freedom and happiness.

He was an example of commitment to the task of establishing great national solidarity and the Party’s objectives and ideals. He set an example to the country and people with his hard work and frugal life.

He exemplified morality, modesty, simplicity, honesty, purity and sincerity. He did more than he promised. He was public - spirited and gave the Party’s and people’s
interests top priority. He hated flattery, opportunism and factionalism.

Whether he was a prisoner or a Party and State leader, he would always show affection towards his fellow countrymen and comrades and share their difficulties. He was known for his humanity and tolerance, qualities typical of a national solidarity organizer and leader and a Ho Chi Minh - style communist. He once said, “Understanding Marxism - Leninism means to know how to be loyal and affectionate”.

President Ho Chi Minh affirmed, “Ton Duc Thang is a shining example of revolutionary morality. He’s lived a hard-working and frugal life. He’s honest and righteous. He’s devoted his whole life to serving the revolution and people”(17).

As the greatest representative of Ho Chi Minh’s thought on great solidarity, Ton Duc Thang devoted his life to the cause of great national solidarity for national independence and unification and socialist construction. His fame and career are closely connected with the country’s great victories and went down in the 20th century history of the nation.

Following him, communists are mindful of his words, “The entire Party should try to learn from Ho Chi Minh’s politics, style and revolutionary morality. Such learning will be the prerequisite for the Party’s strength and ultimate victory of the revolution”(18)

_________________________

(1) Truong Chinh: “Speech at Ton Duc Thang’s funeral”, The People’s Daily, 4 April 1980.

(2), (4), (6) (7), (8), (9), (11), (12), (13), (14), (16), (18) The Communist Party of Vietnam: Complete Works, vol.12, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, pp. 485-486, 486, 488, 487, 487, 277, 277, 276, 276, 448, 9.

(3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol. 6, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2000, p. 158

(5) An Giang Culture and Information Department: President Ton Duc Thang (1888 - 1980), An Giang, 1988, p. 244

(10) “President Ton Duc Thang on Front Work”, People’s Daily, 5 April 1980.

(15) Ton Duc Thang: On the United National Front, Su That (Truth) Publishing House, Hanoi, 1977, pp.21-22.

(17) Ho Chi Minh: op.cit.,vol 9,2002,p.221

Assoc. Prof., Dr. PHAM HONG CHUONG

Institute of Ho Chi Minh and Party Leaders, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

 

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