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Lessons of experience learned from the August revolution 1945

(LLCT) - Thoroughly studying Ho Chi Minh Thought and the Party's leadership style associated with current reality, the article draws some lessons from the August Revolution victory in 1945. It is the lesson on firmly hoisting the flag of national independence and socialism; on great national unity; revolution is the cause of the people, by the people, for the people; on the relationship between quality and quantity; on the close link between the Party's will with the people’s hearts, liberating ourselves with our own strength.

The August Revolution in 1945 - A symbol of great strength of the Vietnamese people

Keywords: Ho Chi Minh, August Revolution.

Discussing the significance of the August Revolution in 1945, President Ho Chi Minh wrote: “Not only the Vietnamese working class and people but also the working class and the oppressed peoples elsewhere can be proud that, this is the first time in the revolutionary history of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples, a new 15-year-old Party has successfully led the revolution, seized national power (...). The August Revolution overthrew the monarchy ruling for decades, broke the colonial chains for nearly 100 years, won power back for the people, built the foundation for the independent, free and happy Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This is a tremendous change in the country’s history”(1).

That historic event has brought the Party a number of valuable lessons of experience.

1. Firmly hoist the flag of national independence and socialism

National independence and socialism are the glorious flag Ho Chi Minh already recognized since 1920. A century ago, reading Lenin’s Preliminary Draft Theses on the National and Colonial Questions, published in L’Humanité on July 16 and 17, 1920, Ho Chi Minh affirmed “this is what we need, this is the path to liberate us”. The liberation path mentioned by Ho Chi Minh is the proletarian revolution, that is national independence is closely associated with socialism. Thereafter, Ho Chi Minh actively spread the revolutionary ideals and path, making the goal of national independence and socialism deeply penetrated into the workers’ movements and patriotic movements.

At the time of the Party’s birth, Ho Chi Minh inscribed on the Party’s flag the motto “Make a bourgeois - democratic revolution and land revolution to advance towards a communist society”(2). From 1930 prior to the revolution’s success, national independence became the direct goal to advance to socialism and socialism marked the orientation for national independence; it was the foundation to ensure the absolute completion of the struggle for national independence. In other words, the achievement of national independence will create prerequisite conditions to advance to socialism. The most important premise for socialism is the struggle for national independence led by the working class through the vanguard leadership of the Communist Party.

Today, “national independence is the prerequisite for realizing socialism and socialism is the solid foundation for national independence. Building socialism and defending the Socialist Fatherland are two closely related strategic tasks”(3).

2. Creating the great national unity, considering revolution as the cause of the people, by the people and for the people

Unity is an extremely precious tradition of the people. Thousands of years of history show that, whenever the Fatherland is invaded, national independence is threatened, victory will come if “the king and his mandarins share oneness of mind, brothers live in harmony, and the entire nation is united”. From the depth of history, a number of big lessons have been drawn on trusting the people, caring the people and taking the people as the root. Nguyen Trai made many extremely important conclusions that it is the people that decide the vicissitude and survival of a nation. A kingdom that wins and consolidates the people’s hearts will build up a great cause; the people’s power is like water, which can either drive or sink the boat; it is only known that the people are like water when the boat sinks. Nguyen Trai’s thought is still meaningful today.

Ho Chi Minh concluded that, “Our history teaches us this lesson: Whenever our people unite in a way that all are as one, our country will be independent and free. On the contrary, whenever our people do not unite, foreign invasion is likely to come up”(4).

“Great national unity and trusting the people, meeting the people’s desire, caring the people, and taking the people as the root” is not only a historical lesson. It has proven valuable since the Party was born to lead the revolution. Summarizing the revolutionary period 1936-1939, affirming the advantages and disadvantages where there were narrow-minded cadres and those who were overwhelmed by the victory, Ho Chi Minh pointed out: “That movement also brought valuable experience to the Party and the National Front today. It teaches us that, what meets the people’s aspirations will be strongly supported and enthusiastically fought for by them, and thus it really becomes a mass movement. It also teaches us to avoid such diseases as subjectivity, narrow-mindedness, etc”(5).

To achieve the victory of the August Revolution, a big lesson drawn is the great bloc of national unity. Analyzing the name of the League for Independent Vietnam (Viet Minh Front) in 1941, Ho Chi Minh gave a clear, practical explanation, which was in accordance with the entire people’s aspirations. The Viet Minh program was simple, practical, and complete: “There are ten policies. The first is to benefit the nation, the second is to benefit the people... “The ten points are both for the entire nation and the fight for the rights of workers, peasants and all social strata. On the other hand, cadres were closely attached to the people, so Viet Minh developed very quickly and strongly, and was warmly welcomed by the people.

The lesson of the “eve of” the August Revolution also shows that the Tan Trao National Congress was considered as an provisional National Assembly; National Liberation Committee as the Interim Government; ten policies of the Viet Minh as the Interim Constitution.

Summarizing a major aspect of this lesson, Ho Chi Minh wrote: “Since the Party’s policy is accurate, which was executed in a timely and flexible manner, the August General Uprising ended in success”(6).

After 25 years of renewal, the 2011 Platform has drawn a great lesson: “It is the people who have made historical victories. All the Party’s activities must stem from the people’s legitimate interests and aspirations. The Party’s strength lies in its close bond to the people. Bureaucracy, corruption, and dissociation from the people will lead to immeasurable harm to the destiny of the nation, the socialist regime and the Party”(7).

3. The quality of party members is more valuable than the quantity, the most important thing is that cadres and party members put the interests of the nation and the Fatherland first and above all.

This is the dialectic of Marxist philosophy. However, it cannot be properly perceived and implemented effectively in practice everywhere, every time and by everyone. In this connection, Ho Chi Minh wrote, “Starting from a few groups of people, who have been trained in fierce struggles, in 1945, the Party had only 5,000 party members (some were still jailed in prisons of the imperialists. Yet the Party managed to unite and lead the people all over the country to bring the Uprising to success”(8).

Drawing experiences for the Vietnamese revolution from the August Revolution victory and the struggle against the US invasion, salving the country and building socialism, Ho Chi Minh affirmed “The Party does not need a great quantity of members; a big number of members is good, however there must be their quality. Each party member, each cadre from top to grassroots level must understand that; joining the Party is to become the people’s servant”(9).

At the time of the August Revolution, there were only less than 5,000 party members, but they were net party members having communist qualities, as Pham Van Dong said. Those who voluntarily joined the Party at that time acknowledged and acted according to Uncle Hồ’s teachings: “The Party is not an organization for high ranks and benefits. It must fulfill the task of national liberation, making the Fatherland prosperous and strong, and the people happy”(10). One party member at that time had the power equal to that of many party members. That strength was shown in quality and quality of those who always put the interests of the Party, the revolution, the class, the nation first and above all. Those communist party members believed deeply and firmly in the great force of the people and the glorious future of the class and the nation. The party members happily sacrificed everything, even their own lives for the people and for the country.

The August Revolution victory was the result of many factors, including the clear and determined leadership of the Party, “Our Party is great, because it has no other interests than those of the class, the people, and the nation”(11); thanks to the solid and enthusiastic unity of the entire people within and outside the Viet Minh Front; thanks to the great victory of the Soviet Union’s Red Army who defeated Japanese fascists and the help under the spirit of internationalism. However, it must be affirmed that the brave sacrifice of the fallen soldiers, who upheld revolutionary morality and were public-spirited and selfless, was one of the decisive factors for the revolution and an invaluable lesson for today and ever.

Today there are more than 5 million party members. Such a number is necessary and worthy of joyfulness. However, sadly a not-small portion of them has been spoiled, corrupt and degenerated. As party members, but they no longer have the qualities of the Vietnamese Communist party member. They have deteriorated in political ideology, morality, lifestyle and fallen into individualism. The number of party members is large but many of them are no longer communists. This situation is very dangerous since those members have high positions, power, money, and influence. They are one of the biggest obstacles to the country’s development.

The August Revolution brought us a lesson on valuing quality over quantity. Now, it is necessary to clean up the apparatus of the Party, State and mass organizations, by replacing people, who have high positions or power, yet, are corrupt, spoiled and deteriorated. It is compulsory to rely on the people to control power. Those having high positions and power must truly be faithful servants of the people, and be trusted by the people, loved by the people, and admired by the people.

4. Closely link the Party’s will with the people’s hearts, using our strength to liberate ourselves

It cannot be said that the August Revolution victory was a “pure luck” for us in a time of “power vacuum”, as suggested by some people of hostile, reactionary forces.

The August Revolution was a revolution of people’s hearts, minds and strength in the spirit of the will, determination and aspirations of independence and freedom under the leadership of a wise, determined Party following the Marxist-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought. It is a revolution that was mainly and basically made by utilizing our strength to self-liberate us. Our strength here is to mobilize the traditional spiritual values of thousands of years of national construction and defense from the time of Ba Trung, Ba Trieu, Tran Hung Dao, Le Loi, Quang Trung. Our strength came from the struggles in such periods as 1930 - 1931; 1936 - 1939; 1939 - 1945. The Bac Son uprising, the Nam Ky uprising, the Do Luong uprising left us valuable experience. Ours is the strength of the great unity bloc of all Vietnamese people, the descendants of Lac and Hong, children of the Dragon and grandchildren of the Immortal Nymph, led by a great, wise and brave Party.

The lesson of utilizing our strength to liberate ourselves is the close, scientific and revolutionary combination of the Party’s will with the people’s hearts. We must always thoroughly understand and correctly acknowledge that Vietnamese history and culture show that in the country, people’s hearts existed long before the Party’s will; patriotic movements came before workers’ movements; and patriotism came before communism. This reality led to the birth of our Party, which was a perfect combination of three factors: Marxism – Leninism, workers’ movements and patriotic movements. It is the people that gave birth to the Party. Ho Chi Minh’s path is also our nation’s path: from patriotism to communism. He wrote: “At first, patriotism, not yet communism, led me to have trust in Lenin, and in the Third International”(12).

An interesting and extremely precious thing is that, with heroism, courage, enthusiasm, industriousness, cleverness, intelligence, creativity and very well, “our people have always followed and been very loyal to the Party since it came into existence”(13).

The great lesson learned here is that, during 15 years when the revolution faced with numerous difficulties, the Party had to operate secretly and coped with the French colonialists’ savage terrorist acts around the clock. Many leaders and party members were killed. But with an independent, autonomous and creative mindset, the Party outlined the correct revolutionary direction, in accordance with the earnest aspirations of the majority of the people who were peasants. Right after its inception, the Party organized and led an unprecedented mass movement in the country, the Soviet Nghe Tinh movement (1930). Masses including workers and peasants side by side overthrew the ruling power of imperialists and feudalists, founding the Soviet workers’ and peasants’ Government. Soviet Nghe Tinh demonstrated the people’s mighty spirit and revolutionary capacity. Although the movement failed, it trained the spirit and force for the August Revolution.

In 1936, the Party has launched a widespread mass movement, establishing the Democratic Front against colonial fascists and reactionaries in Indochina. The Party led the people to fight for democratic rights and freedom, and life improvement. The Party’s will and people’s hearts were merged and united as one. The people’s political consciousness was raised. The Party’s reputation became deeply embedded in the people.

When the Second World War broke out, the Party and Ho Chi Minh changed the fighting direction, and organized the Viet Minh Front and national salvation groups. A great unity bloc consisting of anti-fascist and anti-imperialist patriotic forces was founded. The Party’s will was demonstrated in its correct policy of temporarily putting down the slogan of the land revolution and outlining a policy of reducing rents, reducing debt interests and confiscating the land of the imperialists and Vietnamese traitors to assign them to peasants. That policy stirred up people’s hearts, mobilized anti-imperialist and anti-lackey forces; attracted patriots among landowners, and expanded the National Front to save the country. The people’s hearts brought the revolutionary movement to new height. Revolutionary bases were established. The Party launched a guerrilla war against the Japanese.

With such strength, when our opportunity came together with the Nazi’s defeat by Soviet Union’s Red Army in Autumn 1945, the Party promptly launched a nationwide insurrection to seize power.

In the current situation, the lessons learned from the August Revolution, including the ones of utilizing our strength to liberate ourselves, and uniting the Party’s will and the people’s hearts as one, remain valuable as ever. With the motto “using invariables to cope with variables”, it is imperative to continue implementing the foreign policy of independence, sovereignty, peace, cooperation and development, multilateralization and diversification of international relations; combining both cooperation and struggle. The goal of “a prosperous people, a strong country, a democratic, equitable and civilized society” can only be achieved by the power of the people’s hearts under the leadership of a true revolutionary, moral and civilized party. The renewal has increasingly achieved great results by combining endogenous strength with exogenous strength, national strength with the power of the time. To exploit and receive external power, there must be internal strength. External strength is important, but internal strength is the decisive factor.

One of the lessons drawn in the Platform for national construction in the transitional period to socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) is as follows: “Under any circumstances, it is necessary to persevere with an independent will, sovereignty and uphold the spirit of international cooperation, highly promote internal resources, at the same time take advantage of external forces, combine traditional elements with modern ones”(14).



(1), (5), (6) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.7, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.25-26, 21, 24.

(2), (4) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.3, ibid, p.1, 256.

(3), (7), (14) CPV: Documents of the 11th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.65, 65, 66.

(8), (11), (12) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.12, ibid, p.409, 402, 563.

(9), (13) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.15, ibid, p. 1992, 622.

(10) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.5, ibid, p.289.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Bui Dinh Phong

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