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Why is the Communist Party of Vietnam the only ruling Party and leader of the Vietnamese revolution

(LLCT) - Since its establishment, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has set out the right revolutionary goals, guidelines, and strategies to meet the requirements of the nation’s history and times. Thus, its revolutionary leadership is recognized. The CPV represents the interests of the entire nation and proves its leadership capacity and political prestige. Many Party members become immortal examples and monuments in the hearts and minds of the people. The Party has led the Vietnamese people to gain one victory to another; therefore, it is the only Party which is genuinely revolutionary, with proper revolutionary guidelines, truly courageous, intelligent and striving for the goal of “serving the Fatherland and the people,” to be deserved to lead the Vietnamese revolution.

Despite its founding for over 90 years, some people still question why the CPV is the only ruling Party in Vietnam. Some of them even implicitly judge Vietnam’s one ruling Party as a violation of the right to political freedom and democracy. So, what is the truth behind this? To answer this question, it should be viewed from a “historical perspective” through historical truth and the reality of the Vietnamese revolution. 

History shows that during the fight against the French colonial yoke, the CPV was not the only political party to liberate Vietnam from foreign domination. After the French - Spanish coalition started to invade Vietnam in September 1858, many uprisings led by Confucian scholars broke out in response to the appeal of the “Can Vuong” (Save the King) movement, however, they were all ruthlessly suppressed and disintegrated. The failure of the Huong Khe uprising (in Ha Tinh province) led by Phan Dinh Phung in 1895 concluded the comprehensive failure of the movements led by Vietnamese feudalism.

After the failure of the Can Vuong movement, many patriotic movements against the French invaders constantly broke out in the early years of the 20th century, including The Dong Du (Go to East) movement (1905); The Vietnam Quang Phuc Hoi (1912), initiated by Phan Boi Chau; The Duy Tan (Reform) movement launched by Phan Chau Trinh (1906-1908); The Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc movement (1907) led by Luong Van Can, Nguyen Quyen and many patriotic scholars. However, those movements were eventually defeated by the French colonial government’s brutal terrors.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, under the two yokes of the brutal French colonial government and the Nguyen feudal dynasty, many political organizations and parties were founded in Vietnam. Those organizations and parties shared the tendencies and goals of fighting for national independence:

Vietnam Nghia Doan (Association for Justice) organization was a group of 17 people. Led by patriotic students of Hanoi College of Pedagogy, including Ton Quang Phiet, Pham Thieu, Dang Thai Mai, Nguyen Quoc Tuy, and others, it was founded on January 25th, 1925, at house No. 4, Jauréguibery street (now Quang Trung Street), Hanoi. Although the organization had its brief program and ten oaths, its guideline was not clear. Hence, it did not last long; some members left the organization. Then some remaining members led by Ton Quang Phiet integrated with a group of political prisoners in Central Vietnam to establish Phuc Viet (Recovery of Vietnam) Association.

Phuc Viet Association was founded on July 14th, 1925, by Ton Quang Phiet, Le Van Huan, Ngo Duc Ke, Nguyen Dinh Kien, Dang Thai Mai, and several intellectuals and students from Hanoi College of Pedagogy. Its goal was to unite patriotic and progressive forces to carry out the revolution to expel French colonialists, overthrow the clans of kings and mandarins who betrayed the country, to bring independence for the nation and happiness for the people. However, the Association could not set out guidelines, method, organization, and way of conducting the revolution. Its members only agreed on three points: communication for its Party’s development; contact with revolutionaries in Thailand and China; preparation for its Party’s official establishment.

Louis Marty, who was acting director of the French S#reté Général Indochinoise, seemed to despite Phuc Viet Association by saying that: “such revolution activists do not know anything about the Indochina situation. They even cannot outline an action program in response to the situation”(1). Of course, we could not expect an objective and nice judgment on a Vietnamese revolutionary organization from the French Sûreté. However, we must admit that the revolutionary awareness and political qualification of the key figures of the Phuc Viet Association at that time were still inexperienced and immature.

In 1926, Phuc Viet Association assigned comrades Le Duy Diem (aka Tran Phu) to Guangzhou to contact the Vietnam’s Revolutionary Youth League. After attending a political training course at Vietnam’s Revolutionary Youth League organized by leader Nguyen Ai Quoc, comrade Le Duy Diem returned home and applied the program, method, and way of organizing activities to the Phuc Viet Association’s operation, transformed it from a patriotic organization into a revolutionary one in line with proletariat tendency (later known as Indochina Communist League - one of the three predecessor organizations of the CPV).

The Vietnamese Youth Party was founded by Tran Huy Lieu, Nguyen Trong Hy in Saigon in March 1926. However, known as a progressive party, “even when the Party’s Committee was established, it did not set out specific agenda or charter, or what doctrine it would follow”(2). The Party’s activities were vigorous but precarious and inconsistent. For example, it organized a meeting to welcome activist Bui Quang Chieu, while still fought against the “France - Vietnam collaboration” slogan of his Constitutional Party. Notably, the Vietnamese Youth Party called for the release of patriot Nguyen An Ninh. When the colonial rulers arrested the leaders, the Vietnamese Youth Party soon disintegrated.

The Vietnamese Nationalist Party, established by Nguyen Thai Hoc, Pho Duc Chinh, Nguyen Khac Nhu, Nguyen Tuan Tai, and others in December 1926 in Hanoi, was the Party of the Vietnamese bourgeoisie. The Party’s goal was: “Making a national revolution, using force to overthrow the feudal colonial regime, to establish the Independent Republic of Vietnam. At the same time, supporting oppressed nations in the struggles for independence, especially neighboring countries as Laos, Cambodia”(3). Members of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party consisted of intellectuals, peasants, landlords, merchants, civil servants, students, workers, and Vietnamese patriotic soldiers in the French army. Despite the name “Revolutionary Party,” it did not base on the people, and was loosely organized; therefore, many secret agents and informers of the French colonialists mingled into the Party.

On the other hand, the Party mainly focused on the assassinations, so they received little support from the people. In February 1930, the Vietnam Nationalist Party launched an uprising, despite knowing little chance of success. As the Party leader, Nguyen Thai Hoc said: “If not successful, we will still be heroes scarifying for the country.” The insurrection failed, most of the leaders of the Vietnamese Nationalist Party were arrested and executed in Yen Bai. The Yen Bai insurrection was the last echo of the Vietnamese bourgeoisie in the political arena. The flag of leading the Vietnamese revolution shifted to the working class with the CPV(4).

The Thanh Nien Cao Vong (Ambitious Youth) Party was founded by Nguyen An Ninh - editor of La Cloche félée (Cracked Bell), and operated from 1923 to 1928. The Party’s principles, goals, and agenda were communication to raise the people’s awareness. Only people who were literate in the Vietnamese language and have short haircuts were admitted to the Party. The Thanh Nien Cao Vong Party organization was elementary; there was no central or provincial level, its headquarters was the house of patriotic scholar Nguyen An Ninh. After the arrest of Nguyen An Ninh and some of its leaders, the Thanh Nien Cao Vong Party quickly disintegrated.

The Cochinchina Secret Association was founded in South Vietnam, around the early years of 1914 to 1916, including 70 to 80 secret organizations that aimed to overthrow the colonial government. Those secret organizations followed various philosophical ideologies, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. They operated independently, had no joint command system, and almost honored Phan Xich Long (i.e., Phan Phat Sanh) as Emperor. Each organization had a chairman (called the Boss). The Boss usually divided its members into small groups (about dozens of people) called “Keo”. When in missions, members in different “Keos” did not know each other; thus, they had to use slang and signs prescribed by the Association to communicate. Professor of history Tran Van Giau said, like the Heaven and Earth Society (in China), men in Cochinchina Secret Association also swore the blood oath to be loyal to each other and the Association. Besides, they had to pass the bravery test to be accepted to the Association. However, the Cochinchina Secret Association did not possess a feudal and religious nature like the Heaven and Earth Society. In respect of organization, the Cochinchina Secret Association was organized based on equality and fraternal spirit. When conducting rummage and arrest of the Association, the French collected many “nostalgic poems” written by teacher Vo Truong Toan, which aimed to promote the thought of “loyalty, dutifulness, sacrifice” among members, and the “amulets” which were believed to increase the strength and protect Association’s members from all danger in battle. A political organization, though characterized as “revolutionary”, was in fact, infused with mysterious and religious features; therefore, it quickly disintegrated under terrorized persecution.

Apart from the mentioned organizations and parties, some organizations and political parties were established after the CPV’s inception. For example, the Trotskyist group with some outstanding representatives, such as Ta Thu Thau, Phan Van Hum, Tran Van Thach. It was a “fake” Marxist political organization introduced into Vietnam around the 1930s. By the mid of 1930s, the French Popular Front prevailed and dominated the French government. Thus, Indochina’s colonial government loosened its policy and allowed some political organizations and parties to operate publicly. The Vietnamese Trotskyists competed to join the CochinChina Colonial Council, the Central House of Representatives, etc. However, when the colonial government made a U-turn and suppressed political parties, the Trotskyist organization was quickly disintegrated. It is said that Trotskyists are “top-of-the-line revolutionaries”, soon revealed the nature of “revolutionary opportunism”; therefore, it was only temporary, and not supported by the people.

Another example was the Vietnam Revolutionary Allied Association (aka the Viet Cach), established in 1940 in China. In early 1942, the Viet Cach, together with the Vietnam Nationalist Party (Viet Quoc - named after the Vietnam Nationalist Party of Nguyen Thai Hoc), held a Congress, founded the Vietnam Liberation Association with the leadership of Nguyen Hai Than, Truong Boi Cong, Vu Hong Khanh, Nghiem Ke To. In 1945, the two organizations, Viet Cach and Viet Quoc, together with 20,000 soldiers of the Republic of China, entered Vietnam to disarm the Japanese troops. They attempted to implement the scheme “Chinese army entering Vietnam” to “destroy the communists and detain Ho Chi Minh” and overthrow the revolutionary government. However, this scheme failed. According to the national unity policy, the two organizations were given 70 seats in the National Assembly (without election). Nguyen Hai Than was appointed as Vice President, Vu Hong Khanh as Minister of National Defense, Nguyen Tuong Tam as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the allied Government. However, after the Preliminary Agreement was signed on March 6th, 1946, the army of Chiang Kai-shek withdrew from Vietnam. Nguyen Hai Than, Vu Hong Khanh, and others ran after “the patron”, leaving the country and its people.

Thus, historical reality showed no competition or rejection of political parties and organizations in Vietnam for the revolutionary leadership. In fact, except for the CPV, all political parties and organizations, whether they were parties of ardent patriotic intellectuals or the national bourgeoisie, did not have a clear political guideline, were loosely organized, and some members lacked skill and spirit as well as opportunity. Therefore, no party had enough political capacity and prestige to lead the revolution. Even though some parties were allowed to operate publicly, organized and funded by foreign forces (such as the Viet Quoc, Viet Cach), they all failed and quickly disintegrated. The CPV - the party of the working class and Vietnamese nation - was founded later than other parties (February 3rd, 1930). However, since its inception, the CPV has taken the revolutionary leadership, and the social strata recognized this.

For further explanation, many local and foreign historians, as well as political analysts, agreed that since its inception, the CPV, on the one hand, has set out the proper guidelines and policy in line with requirements, demands of the history. On the other hand, it has a scientific, flexible and suitable method for organizing and directing activities and mobilizing the masses in conformity with practices. Therefore, the Party has built up its reputation among the people and was wholeheartedly supported by them. The Party’s strength stems from the trust of all the people. By winning the people’s trust, no matter what form the Party exists (secretly or publicly), no matter how many other parties and organizations participate in the political arena, the revolutionary leadership still belongs to the Communist Party. It can be affirmed that political prestige is the fundamental element in establishing the leadership role of the Party for the entire process of the Vietnamese revolution.

Furthermore, it would be unconvincing and unilateral to affirm the superiority of the CPV compared to other parties if it is based only on the leadership capacity and political prestige of the Party. Shortly after its inception, the CPV took revolutionary leadership and was recognized by all classes in Vietnamese society. This was because the CPV soon raised the banner of national independence and socialism as the revolution’s goal to meet the most urgent demands and aspirations of the entire Vietnamese nation at the same time. That goal was also consistent with the inevitable development trend of the era, the transition to socialism. In addition, the Party devised the right guidelines and methods for the revolution. Notably, with a Brief Political Platform, Brief Policy drafted by leader Nguyen Ai Quoc, then approved at the Party Founding Meeting (February 1930), the fundamental strategic issues of the Vietnamese revolution were settled. Besides, cadres and Party members who had been trained, challenged during the revolutionary movements, all stuck to the fact, acquired sound leadership capacity and political prestige, and were loyal to the people’s trust. The loyalty examples demonstrated the spirit of patriotism, revolutionary heroism and resolutely sacrificed and strived to fulfil the assigned historical mission. Under the Party leadership, our nation stood up to conduct the General Uprising, to win the August Revolution in 1945, to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Under the Party leadership, our army and people have won two long resistance wars, fulfilled the cause of liberating the South, reunifying the Fatherland, making great victories in the 20th century.

After fulfilling the national liberation revolution cause and the resistance war to defend the Fatherland, the CPV, as the only ruling party, continued to lead our people to carry out the reform successfully.

After 35 years of renewal under the Party leadership, Vietnam has gained many historically significant achievements. From an under-developing country, with outdated technical, socio-economic infrastructure and low-level education, Vietnam nowadays has become a developing country of middle income in which culture and society keep developing, the people’s material and spiritual life are constantly improved; politics and society are stable, national defense-security, independence, sovereignty are preserved. Thus, the country’s position and reputation are increasingly enhanced in the international arena. As Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong affirmed that: “Our country has never had such a fortune, potential, international position and reputation as today”. Those facts consolidate a truth that there is no political force in Vietnam rather than the CPV, which has sufficient mettle, wisdom, experience, prestige and ability to lead the country to overcome all difficulties and challenges, bring our national revolutionary cause to victories one after another(5).

Of course, in the process of leading the revolution, there was a time that the enemy carried out fierce terror on the revolution movements, the entire Central and Regional Party Committees were arrested, and the Party organizations were severely attacked and suffered from severe damage. However, the Party’s revolutionary leadership has never been interrupted and taken over by other political parties. The reason was that at the most critically fierce moments, a contingent of Party members bravely sacrificed for the revolutionary cause. They are Party General Secretaries, namely Tran Phu, Nguyen Van Cu, Ha Huy Tap, Le Hong Phong, and other leaders, such as Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, Hoang Van Thu. They have become immortal monuments in the hearts and minds of the people, creating trust between the people and the Party, and it is unbreakable by any means or forces. The people’s trust in the Party is the power to make all victories of our nation. That is the essential foundation for preserving the constant Party’s leadership over the Vietnamese revolution.

Obviously, only a genuine revolutionary Party with the proper revolutionary guideline, with mettle and wisdom, strives to serve the Fatherland, serve the people, is loved and recognized by the people in terms of leadership, and deserve to be the only Party to lead the Vietnamese revolution.

__________________

Endnotes:

(1) Louis Marty: The Tan Viet Revolutionary Party, Translation by Nguyen Ngoc Cu, Database Department, Ho Chi Minh Institute: NC/19, p.142.

(2) Vietnam Institute of History: Tran Huy Lieu Memoirs, Social Science Publishing House, Hanoi, 1991, pp.63-64.

(3) Hoang Co Thuy: Vietnam’s History Thesis, South Asia Publishing House, 2002, p.1780.

(4) See: Vietnam’s History, Vol II, Social Science Publishing House, Hanoi, 1989, pp.113 - 350.

(5) Speech of General Secretary, President Nguyen Phu Trong at the 90th Founding Anniversary of the Communist Party of Vietnam: https://baoquocte.vn/toan-van-bai-phat-bieu-cua-tong-bi-thu-chu-tich-nuoc-tai-le-ky-niem-90-nam-ngay-thanh-lap-dang-108832.html, ngày 3-2-2020.

ASSOC. PROF., DR. TRAN MINH TRUONG

Institute of Ho Chi Minh and the Party’s Leaders

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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