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Friday, 21 February 2014 10:51
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The ruling Communist Party’s capability and political responsibilities in self-criticism, criticism and correcting imperfection

Self-criticism and criticism is one of the organizational and operational principles of an innovative revolutionary party put forth by V. I. Lenin. It is also the constructional and developmental law of a genuine revolutionary Party. President Ho Chi Minh, the founder and leader of the Communist Party of Vietnam, emphasized many times this fundamental principle in Party building and in the implementation of the Party’s leadership. 

The 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam decided the line of Doi moi (innovation), continuing to build socialism towards the target of:

“A prosperous people, a powerful country, an equal and civilized society” (1986) Photo: VNA

In the Declaration of the Communist Party (February 1848), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels clearly stated that the Communist Party is the organization of communists. The communists always place at the top of the agenda interests of the entire proletarian class and safeguard them, and “always represent the interests of the entire movement.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also stressed that practically, the communists are the most determined part which “always promotes the movement forwards theoretically, and is better than the other parts of the proletarian class since they have a thorough understanding of the conditions, process, and common outcomes of the proletarian movement.”(1) Thus, the historical mission and the revolutionary and scientific nature of the communist party as the vanguard of the proletarian class were then defined clearly and definitely. That nature and vanguard character have been attested and developed in the reality of the proletarian revolutionary movement in the world and that in Vietnam. The principles and requirements for the construction and operation of a new-style revolutionary party, including self-criticism and criticism, were supplemented and clarified by Lenin and Ho Chi Minh.

In his work, The Revolutionary Path (1927), Nguyen Ai Quoc - Ho Chi Minh stated clearly the necessity for a revolutionary party to lead the revolutionary movement. “…there must be a durable, persevering, sacrificing, and united party”(2). Twenty years later, in 1947 when our Party became the ruling Party in Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh wrote To improve our working style and proposed twelve points on the True Revolutionary Party’s Conduct. The eighth point states: “The Party should not conceal its faults and be afraid of being criticized. The Party must admit its faults for self-rectification, progress, and educating cadres and Party members”(3). He emphasized: “If a Party conceals its shortcomings, it is a decaying Party. If a Party is courageous enough to admit its shortcomings, analyze them, clarify their causes and circumstances and search all ways to correct them, it is a progressive, brave, reliable, and genuine Party.”(4) 
In his Testament (1969), he recommends: “The Party should practise democracy widely and frequently, as well as self-criticism and criticism seriously. It is the best way to strengthen and develop solidarity and unity within the Party. There should be comradeship and mutual love among Party members.”(5)
Since 1930, the Communist Party of Vietnam has led the revolution of all classes and the whole nation to great victories. They include the victory of the August 1945 Revolution that put an end to colonialism as well as feudalism and opened the era of national independence and development towards socialism; the victory of the glorious resistance against colonialists and imperialists for complete national independence and unity and the solid protection of the socialist country of Vietnam; the victory of the renewal that has brought the country into a transitional period to socialism and improved Vietnam’s position in international arena. These are glorious achievements and historical facts that no hostile force can deny or distort. International friends really admire Vietnamese nation’s mettle, intelligence, perseverance, and creativity, and incessantly support us.
During the leadership of the revolution, the Party, Party organizations, cadres, and Party members have also committed faults, errors, either leftist or rightist, in perception and action, virtue, morality, the sense of responsibility, or operational method or style. They include the mistake of the Central Party Committee in its policy of Party purification in early 1931 that was corrected by the Party Central Committee in a timely manner. They include the mistake of some comrades in the implementation of the Party’s policy during 1936-1939 that made General Secretary Nguyen Van Cu write the work Self-criticism (1939). They include the mistakes of some comrades in the revolutionary government apparatus after the August 1945 Revolution such as illegality, bossiness, degeneration, the abuse of power for individualistic interests, division, and arrogance. President Ho Chi Minh promptly rectified these faults through his Letter to the People’s Committees at All Levels on 17th October 1945. He also wrote Self-criticism published in the newspaper National Salvation (28th January 1946). In this article, he described clearly both good deeds and errors. He wrote: “Although many individuals in the administrative committee work well and lead an upright life, embezzlement and corruption have not been swept away yet.” He also wrote: “I have to tell the truth: our achievements are due to the efforts of our compatriots. The mentioned errors are due to me. People are not saints; to err is human. We are not afraid of making mistakes; we are just afraid of not being determined to correct them.”(6)
As the founder and leader of the Party and the State, President Ho Chi Minh honestly admitted mistakes in front of the people and showed determination to direct the correction. Before that, he had written He Who Wants to Become a Good Cadre Must Have the Spirit of Self-criticism published in the newspaper National Salvation on 26th September 1945. He wrote: “If one does not practise self-criticism, one will never make progress.”(7) The spirit of self-criticism and criticism was also expressed in many other contents, especially in the context of the Party as the one in power. Such articles as Letter to the North Vietnam Comrades (3rd January 1947) and Letter to the Central Vietnam Comrades (1947) and especially the work Improving Our Working Style (October 1947) by President Ho Chi Minh showed fully political mettle and responsibility of the Party as the leader in front of the country and the people. He pinpointed such illnesses as localism, factionalism, officiousness, bureaucracy, narrow-mindedness, formalism, indiscipline, red tape, selfishness, and arrogance. It is necessary to determinedly correct those bad habits. Thanks to the successful correction of their mistakes, the Party, State, Front, and army incessantly grew up and led the revolution to victory.
For the serious and prolonged mistakes in the land reform, the 10th Plenum of the 2nd Party Central Committee from 25th August to 25th October, 1956, carried out self-criticism frankly and seriously, showed determination to correct them, and managed to correct them in a timely and effective manner. At this Plenum, Party General Secretary Truong Chinh made a self-criticism, proposed his resignation, and was approved by the Party Central Committee. Some other comrades who were the direct leaders of the Committee for the Land Reform were disciplined to different extents. President Ho Chi Minh also criticized himself and admitted his errors in front of the National Assembly.
At its 6th Party Congress (December 1986), the Party criticized itself for its errors in the leadership of the socialist revolution. With the spirit of looking straight at the truth, assessing it correctly, and stating it clearly, the Congress analyzed profoundly the errors in our conception and action, subjectivism, voluntarism, hastiness, actions contrary to law, conservatism, sluggishness, and the long-term maintenance of inappropriate mechanisms and policies. The Congress also proposed some solutions to these problems and policies for the overall national renewal.
In the leadership of the renewal, in the face of new challenges due to the serious crisis of socialism in many countries in the world that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, negative impacts from the dark side of the market economy and the complicatedness of the international situation, the sabotage by hostile forces both inside and outside the country, and the lack of self-improvement and self-training on a part of cadres and Party members, the Party attached special importance to its building and rectification in all aspects: politics, ideology, theory, organization, and cadres. The Party Central Committee has issued many important resolutions on Party building, renovation, and rectification in the renewal. They include the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the 6th Party Central Committee (June 1988), the Resolution of the 3rd Plenum of the 7th Party Central Committee (June 1992), the Resolution of the 3rd Plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee (June 1997) on the Cadre Strategy in the Period of Intensified Industrialization and Modernization, the Resolution of the 6th Plenum (2nd time) of the Party Central Committee (January 1999), and the recent Resolution of 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee (16th January 2012) on Some Urgent Issues in Present Party Building. 
The Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee firmly stated: “Many positive results have been made in Party building and rectification; the Party’s leadership and fighting capabilities have been incessantly heightened; the Party’s mode of leadership has been gradually renovated; the Party’s leading role has been solidly maintained; the people’s trust in the Party has been consolidated; the leadership and management staff at all levels have shown steps towards maturity and made progress in many aspects. The majority of cadres and Party members nurture the sense of self-cultivation and self improvement of political virtues, morality, and lifestyle; have built up the sense of serving the people and gained their trust.” The Resolution also pointed out clearly: “Besides the achieved results, Party building still shows many limitations and weaknesses; some errors have existed over much tenure and have been overcome so slowly that they have reduced the people’s trust in the Party. If these limitations, weaknesses, and errors are not overcome, they will become challenges to the Party’s leadership and the institution existence.”(8)
The 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee emphasizes three urgent issues as follows: First, a not small part of cadres and Party members, including those in the leadership and management positions as well as some senior cadres, have degenerated in their political thoughts, morality, and lifestyle. Second, the Central-level, strategic-level cadres are greatly important, but they have not been built up fundamentally. Last, the principle “collective leadership, individual responsibility” has actually fallen into formalism in many places due to the unclear identification of the responsibility mechanism and the relation between the collective and individuals. As a result, no one takes responsibility when an mistake occurs. The Plenum put forth four groups of measures to deal with the mistake and weaknesses. The prime group is to practise self-criticism and criticism and raise high the vanguard and exemplary qualities of the higher level of authorities. In that spirit, in late February and early March 2012, the Party Central Committee held a nationwide conference to launch the implementation of the plan of self-criticism and criticism within the Party. The Party Politburo and Secretariat made a self-criticism and criticism in July 2012 (at many phases) and reported on the results and experience to the national conference in 13th August 2012. At the 6th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, which was held from 1st to 15th October 2012, the Party Politburo and Secretariat made a self-criticism before the Party Central Committee, and proposed disciplinary measures to be applied to themselves as teams and to one member of the Politburo. It can be asserted that, the process of making self-criticism and criticism within the Party, according to the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, with the Politburo and Secretariat setting examples and implementing throughout organizations, Party committees at all levels, sectors, and localities has become actually a greatly important political activity that has attracted the attention of the entire Party and people. That attention shows the political responsibility not only for the Party’s leadership but also for the country and the institution.
Self-criticism and criticism within the Party made in the past and at present has clarified one of the principles and laws of building and developing a genuine revolutionary party. It is a frequent and compulsory requirement for Party building and for the execution of the Party’s leadership.
Firstly, the Party should practise self-criticism and criticism for self-improvement in politics, ideology, organization, cadres, and morality so that it can heighten its leadership and fighting capabilities, as well as fulfill its mission as the vanguard and leader of the working class and laboring people in particular, and the Vietnamese nation in general. President Ho Chi Minh emphasized many times: the Party has no other interests but those of the working class and the nation. The Party has the responsibility of striving for the country and the people. Cadres and Party members are not allowed to bear the faces of “revolutionary mandarins” that would result in the people’s despite and hatred. He also pointed out clearly the leading qualities and responsibilities of the Party. He said: “The Party is not an organization for one becoming an official and getting rich. It must fulfill its missions of liberating the nation and making the Fatherland rich and the people happy.”(9) Self-criticism and criticism is, according to Ho Chi Minh, “applied to acts, not people”(10) in order to promote their strong points and achievements and to correct errors and weaknesses for better leadership. 
According to President Ho Chi Minh, there are unavoidably both right actions and wrong actions in carrying out a revolution. However, right actions should outnumber the bad ones. In leadership, the leaders should first and foremost “Make right decisions in all issues… It is the people who have to suffer the results of our leadership.”(11) If the Party’s leadership is right, the people will enjoy its fruits. On the contrary, if the Party’s leadership is wrong, the people will suffer its consequences. A wrong mechanism or policy will deter the development of production, lead the economy to a crisis, and make the people’s life become difficult. Such right policies as the Directive 100 issued by the Party Secretariat on 13th January 1981, and the Resolution 10 issued by the Politburo on 5th April, 1988, created 
unprecedently new steps of development for the domestic agriculture. Thanks to this, Vietnam has become the leading rice exporter in the world. With its foreign policies of independence, sovereignty, peace, cooperation, and development, which strive for Vietnam to become a reliable friend and partner and a responsible member of the international community, Vietnam managed to get out of the blockage and embargo, has succeeded in its international integration, created a peaceful and friendly environment for national development, maintained political stability, and strengthened national defence and security. The 11th Party Congress (January 2011) and the 3rd, 5th, and 6th Plenums of the Party Central Committee advocated the renovation of the growth model, as well as the restructuring of the economy, State-owned enterprises, banks, public investment, and policies and laws on land. This act is the correction of errors for the improvement of the quality, efficiency, and stability of the economy, the guarantee of social security, and the better care of the people’s life. The soundness of the guidelines and policies is attested by the developed economy, stabilized politics and society, strengthened national defence and security, widened foreign relations, as well as improvements in the material, cultural, and spiritual lives of the people. 
Secondly, sound self-criticism and criticism shows the political mettle and responsibility of the Party, cadres, and Party members, especially the leadership and management cadres. The political mettle of the Party, cadres, and Party members is expressed in the loyalty and steadfastness to the revolutionary ideals and path in all circumstances; the heightening of the spirit of independence, sovereignty, and creativity; the calmness and proactivity in overcoming all difficulties and challenges with the motto “take the invariable to cope with the variable”; and the sincerity in admitting errors and faults and the determination to correct them. To bravely admit defects and errors in front of the Party and the people is a praise-worthy act, which shows the mettle. However, the more important thing is the determination and effective solutions to rectifying those defects and errors. It is a great political responsibility; the higher-ranking the Party organization and leader, the greater their responsibility. It is also the conscience, honor, and culture in leadership and management.
President Ho Chi Minh and other leaders of the older generation also criticized themselves, admitted their mistake in front of the people, and corrected effectively their defects and errors to bring the revolutionary cause to victory. Nowadays, self-criticism and criticism, according to the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee, should inherit the previous tradition and experience of success of the Party.
It is not accidental that, when emphasizing the struggle to prevent and check degeneration in the political ideology, morality, and lifestyle of a not small part of cadres and Party members, the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee clearly stated that “it is necessary to build up leadership and management staff at all levels, especially at the Central level to meet the requirements of national industrialization and modernization and international integration,” “to define clearly the authority and responsibility of the leaders of the Party committee and administration in relation with the Party committee, the agency, and the unit.”(12) Through self-criticism and criticism, each cadre and Party member, regardless of their positions, have chances to review themselves, think seriously, and identify their strengths to promote and weaknesses to sincerely overcome. They should “determinedly correct their mistakes” according to the teachings of President Ho Chi Minh. The 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee pointed out the unclear identification of the responsibility mechanism and the relation between the collective and the individual, the reliance on the collective, the unclear definition of individual responsibilities, and the sophisticated abuse of authority for the pursuit of individual interests. Self-criticism and criticism should focus on the clarification of individual responsibilities, as well as the leaders’ authority and responsibilities.
Lastly, self-criticism and criticism is intended for the reinforcement of the unity in will and action and the people’s trust in the Party, as well as for the prevention of hostile forces and sabotage related to this drive. In 2012, the implementation of the Resolution of the 4th Party Central Committee took place according to the prescribed roadmap and plan. Particularly, the self-criticism and criticism of the organizations at different levels, from the Politburo and the Secretariat to Party committees and organizations at all levels has initially created positive changes; timely measures have been made to rectify the clarified errors have been overcome in a timely manner. Focus has been made on the resolution of the most pressing and prolonged issues concerning anti-corruption, individual gain-seeking, group’s interests, leaders’ responsibilities, open disciplining of Party organization, centers, and members, the restructuring of economic corporations, State-owned enterprises, banks, bad loans, unsold stocks, the efficiency of public investment, the laws and policies on land, prolonged complaints, and some imperative issues have been discussed openly and considered by the Party Central Committee, National Assembly, and Government taking into account public opinion before making final decisions. This effort has created the people’s trust in the Party.
Self-criticism and criticism is closely related to the correction of defects and weaknesses. The result of the latter is the confirmation of the efficiency of the former. Self-criticism and criticism is a necessary reminder, warning, and wakening as Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has mentioned many times. If an individual intentionally does not correct them, he must be strictly punished with the Party’s discipline and the State law. We should remember President Ho Chi Minh’s instructions: Anyone who has not committed any mistake should try to avoid doing it and further strive for progress. Anyone who has committed mistake should try his best to correct them; if he does not correct them, he will not be spared. In history, whenever the Party committed any errors, the enemies would try all ways to deepen, exaggerate, or distort them to ruin the solidarity and unity within the Party. In Self-criticism (1939), Party General Secretary Nguyen Van Cu stated clearly that the hostile forces towards the Party “should not be hastily beside oneself with joy to find here a division or any seed of factionalism among communists since it is a waste of effort. It is because after a clear discussion, within our ranks, the minority always submit themselves to the majority. There is only one will, and it is the Party’s will. Thousands of people as one will exercise that will.”(13)
The Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Party Central Committee on “Some Urgent Issues in Present Party Building” emphasizes: “We should keep calm and be of sound mind, and should not be impatient or go to extremes. Simultaneously, we should not let ourselves fall into stagnation or formalism or be unable to change the situation. We should also stick to the principles, and should not let hostile forces or opportunist elements take advantage, incite, distort, or criticize us to cause internal turmoil.”(14)
As dictated by the nature, targets, and ideals of the revolution, the political responsibility of the Communist Party of Vietnam has become increasingly heavier. The incessant Party building and self-rectification, including self-criticism and criticism, for the effective correction of defects and mistake, is vital to the Party. It is also the expectation of all social strata and the whole nation.
Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Trong Phuc
Institute of Party History, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration


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