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Tuesday, 24 October 2017 10:10
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“Prosperous people” - Top distinctive feature of socialism in Vietnam

(LLCT) - Over the past 30 years of renovation, together with great achievements of historical significance, the theory on socialism in Vietnam has also taken important steps forward. In which, the identification of the leading distinctive characteristics of socialist model in Vietnam, which is “prosperous people, strong, democratic and civilized country” (the Political Platform, supplemented and amended in 2011). In reality and in research, the term of “prosperous people” has been mentioned by many people, but its connotation has not been fully conceived. It has not been understood that the clear identification and gradual realization of this objective must be seen as one of the greatest achievement of the rennovated thinking on socialism and the path towards socialism in Vietnam. To obtain this theoretical affirmation demands a whole process of exploration and much effort to realize the people’s rights to do businesses, thence to enrich and to be supported and encouraged to enrich themselves lawfully.

1. “Prosperous people”, at the first place, is the people’s right “to do businesses” and to enrich themselves

The most important content of “prosperous people” is the right “to do businesses”, to take care of their own lives, to realize the right to “pursue happiness” as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence (September 2, 1945). “Prosperous people” is, at the first place, related to economics. The people here are the ones taking part in production and business in the private sector, individual, small owner and household economies... The majority of them are working hard to overcome poverty and hoping for a normal life with enough food and clothing.

The old concept of socialist economic model is one of the factors making it difficult to realize the issue of “prosperous people”. Concerns over the spontaneity of “small commodity production, every day and every hour, give rise to capitalism” and dogmatic and conservative thoughts... have once been the internal obstacle for the process of thinking and realization of “prosperous people”. The old concept is that socialist state with its centralized resources, planning power and organizational capacity via orders could replace “invisible hands” and take care of the entire society equally. The all-people ownership and collective ownership are incompatible and have not aroused the people’s potential productive capacity. The State with centralized, administrative management mechanism and subsidy regime during the wartime in the past has revealed inadequacies in the peacetime.

In the old way of thinking, the people seem to be beneficiaries, who are managed by and follow the State’s mechanism in all spheres. Self-help actions and economic dynamics of the people are not accepted, which are forced to exist in the form of underground and individual economy. The people doing businesses are seen to be the factors obstructing the cause of socialist construction. Central planning management mechanism is supposed to create fairness and to avoid anarchy and the wastefulness of productivity due to “blind competition”... After a time of operation, that mechanism clearly shows voluntarism, “Inadequacies of the central planning... lies within this model itself because it raises a requirement that can not be met by any scientist or even by a collective of the world’s best scientists”(1). It is because planning forgets the most important factor, which is the people’s power, the people’s productive capacity and the people’s creativity.

The 6th Party Congress admits the inadequacies of the old way of thinking, which “has not truly admitted the objectively existing rules of goods production...”; “has not truly admitted that the multi-component economy in Vietnam will exist for a relatively long time”. Instead, it “hastily wants to remove non-socialist economic components and to rapidly turn capitalist individual economy into state-owned economy”. Therefore, this, by chance, has not created favourable environment for the people to do businesses and to accumulate their wealth. Experience lessons learned from the 6th Party Congress is “to thoroughly grasp the idea of the people as the root”. “All guidelines, policies of the Party must originate from the interests, aspirations and capabilities of the working people and must arouse the agreement and response of the masses”(2). Aspirations, interests and capabilities of the people at this time are to do business and to enrich with their own capacity.

2. The people are permitted to do businesses and to enrich themselves in the equal status among economic sectors

The 7th Party National Congress affirmed that the people are permitted “to do businesses” by the clear identification of economic sectors within the market mechanism. The people’s status of individual economy has been determined in the guideline of “strongly developing household economy in many forms, the people contribute the main source of capitals, combined with the support of the State, which is mainly in policies. Individual economy is developed under the management and guidance of the States, especially in production field; the private capitalist economy is directed to develop towards the path of State capitalism”(3). The State has guaranteed the people’s right to do businesses, creating legal environment to support and guide the people to develop their economy and to enrich themselves lawfully. However, during this period, there were still impacts of the old way of thinking, according to which individual economy is developed under the management and guidance of the State. Here, “visible hand” is still emphasized as an orientation and the positiveness of “invisible hand” in the market economy has not been clearly known. At that time, Vietnam did not have enough experience in managing the market economy to make stronger decisions.

After 10 years of renewal, the 8th Party National Congress (1996) summed up initial experience on conditions and orientation for the people in doing business and enriching, which is “to implement consistent and long-term policy on developing multi-sector commodity economy”. Economic sectors of the people and from the people are identified as “individual, small holder economy” and “private capitalist economy” with equal status before the law. The goal is “to take the liberation of productive capacity, maximum mobilization of all internal and external resources for industrialization, modernization, improvement of socio-economic efficiency and enhancement of the people’s living standard as the first priority...”(4).

Benefit-based driving force has been recognized through the acceptance of diversed method of distribution: “to implement a variety of distribution methods, in which distribution is based on production results and economic efficiency plays the main role, at the same time, on the contribution of other resources to the production - business outcomes and distribution via social welfare”(5). Together with distribution based on working results, distribution based on production-business efficiency has become the major distribution methods of socialism in Vietnam. This is the new feature of the 8th Party National Congress compared to the 7th Congress. For the first time, the Party has new concept of legitimate enrichment: “Distribute and redistribute incomes reasonably; encourage lawful enrichment in parallel with hunger eradication, poverty alleviation and do not leave out the excessive disparities of living standards and development levels among regions and population strata”(6).

The socialist nature of Vietnam’s market economy has been more and more clearly identified by the Party: “To develop productive capacity, it is necessary to bring into full play the capabilities of all economic sectors, to admit the fact that there are still exploitation and certain differentiation between the rich and the poor. Nevertheless, the working people’s interests should be always taken care of, lawful enrichment be encouraged, illegal enrichment be fought against, and at the same time hunger eradication, poverty alleviation should be appreciated and step by step implement social equity towards making every one, every family become well-off”(7).

3. The people’s enrichment and equality in access to production and business conditions

The 9th Party National Congress (2001) affirmed the diversity, equal status and prospect of long-term existence of multi-component economy during the transitional period towards socialism in Vietnam. From perspective of economics, socialism in Vietnam has been built with the strength of the great national unity, which is the concensus, symbiosis and promotion of all potential internal force of the people. For the first time, the issue of doing business and enrichment of the people have been mentioned quite adequately in terms of development viewpoint, forms of ownership, economic sectors, roles and status... in the national economy. The people are allowed to do business, to enrich and to contribute to the national constructions in all economic sectors, all forms of production and services.

The Party and State guarantees the stability of business environment by affirming, “to consistently implement the policy of developing a multi-component economy. All law-abiding economic sectors constitute important integral components of the socialist-oriented market economy, equal before the law, to develop together in long term, in cooperation and fair competition...”(8) and identifying the responsibility “to continue to synchronously establish market factors; to renew and enhance the efficiency of the State’s economic management”(9).

The 10th Party National Congress (2006) clearly identifies, the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam has three forms of ownership (all-people, collective and private) with five economic sectors: The state-owned sector, the collective sector, the private sector (individual, small-owner, and private capitalist), the state capitalist sector and the foreign-invested sector. “All law-abiding economic sectors constitute important integral components of the socialist-oriented market economy, equal before the law, to develop together in long term, in cooperation and fair competition” and “to wipe out all discriminations on account of forms of ownership”. “The private sector plays an important role, operating as one of the driving forces of the economy”(10). This is the first time, the status of private business is identified to be “important” and “the driving force” of the socialist economy and lies within the National strategy on development of enterprises. 

The 11th National Party Congress (2011) puts forward the task towards “perfecting mechanisms, policies to strongly develop private sector into one of the driving forces of the economy” by creating “equity in distribution of productive factors, access to and use of opportunities and conditions of development”. The scale of private sector, the people’s enterprises have also been paid attention to by the State so that they can rise from small and medium-scaled enterprises into private economic groups. The 11th National Party Congress decides, “To strongly develop forms of private economy in almost economic branches and areas according to planning and the law. To facilitate the formation of some private economic groups...”(11).

The 2013 Constitution, Article 32 and 33 clearly define the right to own, determine the enjoyment of benefits of individual properties protected by the State.

“Article 32

1. Everyone has the right to ownership of his or her lawful income, savings, housing, chattels, means of production and capital contributions to enterprises or other economic entities.

2. The right to private ownership and the right to inheritance shall be protected by law.

3. In case of extreme necessity for national defense or security reasons or in the national interest, in a state of emergency or in response to a natural disaster, the State may compulsorily purchase or requisition the property of organizations or individuals and pay compensation at market price.

Article 33

Everyone has the right to freedom of enterprise in the sectors and trades that are not prohibited by law”.

Article 51, Paragraph 3: “The State encourages and creates the conditions for business people, enterprises or other individuals or organizations to carry out investment, production or business activities; and develops economic branches in a sustainable manner in order to contribute to national construction. The legal property of individuals and organizations engaged in investment, production or business activities is protected by law and is not subjected to nationalization”(12).

The 12th National Party Congress (2016) continues to assert, the role of people’s business and private economy is an “important driving force” of Vietnam’s economy. “Encourage business start-up”(13); “Encourage the formation of private economic groups of multi ownership and the private contribution of capitals to State-owned economic groups”(14). The State gives the legal guarantees on the right to property: “Institutionalizing property rights (including ownership, use rights, disposing and benefiting from the use of property) of the State, organizations and individuals as stipulated in the 2013 Constitution”(15).

The State and Party have so far clearly identified the strategic lines and legal framework on the issue of “prosperous people” in Vietnam. To do businesses and to enrich themselves have become the people’s rights and duties, which are committed to protect and facilitate development by the States.

From being the objective, the issue of “prosperous people” has been gradually realized in the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam with the status of the right to do businesses of the people, which are committed to protect by the State. From the position of unrecognization and existence under the form of “underground economy”, private economy and household economy have been recognized to be an economic sector playing an important role, which is protected by the State and exist in a long-term in the cause of socialist construction. The state also creates opportunities for developing the cause of prosperous people by facilitating the formation of a number of private economic corporations. Thus, in the past years, the private sector in Vietnam has contributed to solving 90% of the society’s new job demand every year; contributed from 38% to 42% of GDP, contributing significantly to national hunger eradication and poverty reduction. Prosperous people have been and are becoming a reality in the cause of socialist construction in Vietnam. This reality is one of the great achievements of the practical renovation and the renewal of theoretical thinking on socialism and socialist construction in Vietnam.


l Endnotes:

(1) Dang Phong: Vietnam’s economic thought 1975 - 1989, Tri thuc Publishing House, Ho Chi Minh City, 2012, p.109.

(2) CPV: Completed Party Documents, vol. 47, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p.711

(3) CPV: Completed Party Documents, vol.51, Political Report of the 6th Party Central Committee at the 7th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2007, p.103.

(4), (5), (6), (7) CPV: Completed Party Documents, vol. 55, Political Report of the 7th Party Central Committee at the 8th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2015, pp.375, 376, 376, 360.

(8), (9) CPV: Documents of the 9th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, pp.95-96, 100.

(10) CPV: Documents of the 10th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p.83.

(11) CPV: Documents of the 11th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.209.

(12) Database of legal documents/ Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam issued by the National Assembly of Socialist Republic of Vietnam on November 28, 2013.

(13), (14), (15) Office of the Party Central Committee: Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Hanoi, 2016, pp.105, 108, 104.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen An Ninh

Institute of Scientific Socialism,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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