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Tuesday, 06 December 2016 15:28
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Ho Chi Minh - A statesman of great vision

(LLCT) - In celebration of the 105th anniversary of the day Ho Chi Minh left Vietnam to seek ways for national salvation (5 June 1911 - 5 June 2016), Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics in coordination with the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee organized the symposium “Ho Chi Minh - A statesman of great vision” in Ho Chi Minh City. The Journal would like to publish extracts of the keynote speech by Professor and Doctor Nguyen Xuan Thang, Member of the Party Central Committee, and Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics.

President Ho Chi Minh is a great man of our times. He played a major role in, and made an enormous contribution to, the development of Vietnam’s and mankind’s history. With a great vision, he found the way to save his nation, changing its destiny from an enslaved country to an independent, free one and made a significant contribution to the common cause of nations for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress. His life, career, ideology, morality and style set a bright example for the cause of national, social and human liberation across the world.

According to the Party and researchers, Ho Chi Minh’s vision dealt with fundamental, comprehensive, profound aspects of the Vietnamese revolution including seeking ways to save the country and liberate the people; establishing or creating a social model associated with modern institutions; finding the way of development of the revolution; handling international relations and issues; and developing the personality and dignity of Vietnamese so that they could cope with regional and global integration.

1. The role of Ho Chi Minh’s vision in national salvation and liberation 

In the late 19th century, independent feudalist Vietnam became a semi-feudalist colony because of French invasion. As a matter of course, people’s reaction in the form of movements led by different approaches and tendencies against French colonialists exploded to no avail. This showed the contrast between the nation’s vitality, bravery and persistence in fighting and crises in national salvation directions and classes organizing and leading the resistance.

Nguyen Tat Thanh (Ho Chi Minh) admired greatly the determination of predecessors to gain national independence, but he did not agree with their national salvation directions. In the early 20th century context, the patriotic young man Nguyen Tat Thanh in June 1911 decided to leave the country to find a way to save it. He went to the West, but not to seek support or ask for help from external forces but to learn from other countries so he could help his people when he returned to Vietnam.

His decision to go to France was one of historic significance and one which demonstrated his vision and his independent, creative thinking. Ho Chi Minh broadened his horizon beyond Asia, which was ruled by feudalists and closed to world trade for millennia, to the rest of the world, particularly the West. By going abroad, he showed his determination to see for himself the Western civilization. He refused to be overwhelmed by it while being willing to learn from the quintessence and intelligence of the times. He himself analyzed and evaluated the meaning of major events in the world, especially social revolutions. Beginning with his patriotism and his sensitivity to the new and the progressive and by identifying who or what organization took sides with colonized peoples and united with them in their fight against colonialism and imperialism and for national independence, he found a way to claim basic freedom and democracy rights for his people.

In Paris, the capital city of France, which was then considered to be the center of world imperialists, he took a step forward in his perception of the way to save and liberate the nation when he was influenced by the Russian October Revolution of 1917. Although he did not fully understand the enormous meaning of the October Revolution, it was very important and “extremely magically attractive” to him. In July 1920, while reading Draft theses on national and colonial questions by V. I. Lenin, he discovered answers to the question of liberation for colonized peoples including Vietnamese.

2. Vision of establishing or creating a social model associated with modern institutions  

Nguyen Tat Thanh’s June 1911 journey to seek ways to save the country was a search for ways to carry out only one objective as his predecessors had set: gaining national independence; rather, he aimed to achieve two goals, saving the nation and saving the people. Therefore, his journey to the West was an end to the political model of an Oriental feudalist, monarchical state, opening the period of researching Western society.

From 1911 to 1920, by exploring colonized countries and major capitalist countries like the United States, Britain and France, he developed an important understanding of the search for a future political system model for the country. 

By studying political system and state models in the world and summarizing Vietnamese realties, Nguyen Ai Quoc and the Party opted for the democratic republic model, sending democracy movements to their height between 1936 and 1939. During national liberation campaigns from 1939 to 1945, Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) and the Party continued to seek and explore different state models and finally selected a more reasonable one, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was a new state model and political system chosen by Ho Chi Minh and the Party Central Committee at its 8th Plenum in May 1941. The Viet Minh Front was a pre-government state whose action program clearly stated that power belonged to people. It was a transitional socio-political system of the people, by the people and for the people. That system provided motivation and encouragement for the entire Vietnamese population to rise up with the August Revolution in 1945, which culminated in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, a new socio-political system discovered and chosen by Nguyen Ai Quoc for the goals of national independence, people’s rights and livelihoods, freedom and well-being.

3. Vision of determining Vietnamese people’s path to development

By understanding exactly the characteristics and trends of the times, Ho Chi Minh found a development path for the nation suiting the law of development of history - national independence and socialism.

National independence and socialism did not only show the substantial difference between Ho Chi Minh’s way of saving the nation and the feudalist or bourgeoisie way but also how creatively he applied and adapted Marxism - Leninism to the specific conditions of Vietnam. National independence and socialism chosen by Ho Chi Minh became the ideals and objectives of the Vietnamese revolution.

National independence, according to Ho Chi Minh, had to be real, complete independence, i.e. one in all areas, politics, economics, culture, security, national defense and diplomacy. Real, complete political independence was the most important. National independence had to be closely linked to peace. National independence had to bring about happiness for people. National independence served as a precondition for socialism.

Ho Chi Minh’s perceived socialism as one which was able to create development. This perception was very different from common misconceptions that socialism had coercive, distant, unrealistic criteria. Ho Chi Minh’s perception of socialism was very simple and close to daily lives. His most general perception of socialism was that a socialist society was one which increasingly and inclusively met all legitimate needs of people. Because of his perception that national independence had to be closely connected to the freedom and happiness of people, Ho Chi Minh came up with the idea of a humane society, a common objective of the Vietnamese revolution: national independence and socialism.

In Ho Chi Minh’s view, a development society had to be entitled to comprehensive development with people’s freedom and happiness being the most important criteria for the social system. His perception of socialism demonstrated his ideas of pursuing happiness for everyone on earth, which was the core of his social development philosophy.

As far as the socialist cause was concerned, Ho Chi Minh introduced a comprehensive set of views. From the perspective of development motivation, he believed that socialism was built by the masses, who had a sense of collective labor, patriotism, risk-taking and thrift. During the reform and building of the society, a range of controversies had to be resolved. Therefore, he reminded officials and party members not to be subjective or impatient and to identify the right step and methods for building socialism. Then socialism would not only be a dream but also be the most capable (compared to all other societies which had ever existed in history) of creating internal vitality and a strong driving force for the society to move forward.

4. Vision of building Vietnamese character and dignity          

In the 1920s, while compiling The Revolutionary Path in 1927, in order to train personnel in preparation for the establishment of the Party, Ho Chi Minh opened his work with a major section titled “The Moral Standards of a Revolutionary”, in which he identified moral standards required of a revolutionary such as “Work for public interests before private ones; stay loyal to his or her ism; be willing to make sacrifices; refrain himself or herself from material desires...; avoid running for fame and acting arrogantly; action must follow speech...; be decisive; be brave; and obey his or her organization”. In his Prison Diary (1943) and the “Reading Books” column, he attached greatest importance to the building of the nation’s and people’s psychology. In his Changing Work Styles (1947), he came up with ideas related to the structure of personality translated into standards including humanity, gratitude, intelligence, bravery, industry, economy, honesty, righteousness and public spirit and selflessness.

For Ho Chi Minh, while fostering the personality and dignity of Vietnamese, especially government officials and Party members, love for the country and people had to be given top priority. According to him, this love had to become a living philosophy. He once generalized his philosophy of life, “After all, what matters most is living and living as a person”. Living and living as a person meant loving one’s country and one’s people and oppressed humanity. Accordingly, one’s love for his or her country and people had to be translated into action for the sake of liberating his or her nation and people.

Ho Chi Minh considered morality to be the foundation of people, especially revolutionaries. Morality to people is like the roots of a tree and the source of a river. The reason is that only when one had high standards of revolutionary morality is one able to do noble, glorious work; morality is a powerful tool for the reform of an old society; morality helps people to preserve their dignity and mettle in all circumstances; and morality is a criterion for assessing one’s nobility. As far as revolutionary morality was concerned, Ho Chi Minh gave particular emphasis to loyalty to one’s country, gratitude to one’s people, working for the benefit of one’s country and people, industry, thrift, honesty, righteousness, public spirit and selflessness - qualities indispensable to all, especially government officials and party members.

Ho Chi Minh did not only bequeath a legacy of views on building Vietnamese personality and dignity but also set a good example of personality, revolutionary morality and consistency between thinking and action and between words and actions. For us, he embodies perfect personality of a communist who loves his fellow countrymen and humanity, erudite yet extremely modest, radically revolutionary and absolutely kind-hearted, great yet simple, brilliant yet not overpowering. He is an example of a leader who stays in touch with the masses and is a crystallization of the noblest values of Vietnamese culture and morality.

5. Vision of handling international relations and issues

As early as the 1920s, while seeking ways to save his country, Ho Chi Minh quickly learnt the characteristics of a new era, the post-October Revolution era, and he summarized them into views and theories on needs for, possibilities of, and conditions for cooperation between peoples.

After understanding the characteristics of the new era, Ho Chi Minh worked actively to integrate the Vietnamese revolution with that of the world. He did not only serve socio-political purposes of the times - national independence and social progress - but also work for the rapid development of the world’s productive forces. In his mind, international cooperation was meant to eradicate poverty and backwardness and catch up with world countries, and after all, he would link his country’s development strategies to important changes of the times.

With that strategic vision, he invited French, American, Russian and Chinese professionals to help us with our national construction. In his appeal to the United Nations in 1946, Ho Chi Minh pointed out that Vietnam would facilitate reception of investment from foreign capitalists and technicians in all industries of the country and that Vietnam was willing to expand its sea ports, airports and roads for international trade and transit and that Vietnam was willing to join all international economic organizations led by the United Nations. After the North was liberated, Ho Chi Minh and the Party increased international cooperation to exchange trade and take advantage of economic and technical assistance from brotherly socialist countries and democratic and peaceful forces in the world.

As far as international cooperation relations were concerned, Ho Chi Minh described Vietnam’s foreign policy as one which was aimed at “befriending all democratic countries and avoiding hatred towards any country”. Given complicated international situations, Ho Chi Minh and the Party was clever enough to drive the Vietnamese revolution on the road to independence, self-reliance and creativity, make use of the strength of the entire population and combine the strength of the nation with that of the times to liberate, build and protect the country.

6. 40 years of Ho Chi Minh City

In early 1911, after a few months’ teaching at Duc Thanh School in Phan Thiet, Nguyen Tat Thanh moved to Saigon, from where many patriotic Vietnamese intellectuals left for the West to get to know Western capitalist democracy with a common hope of discovering its real value stressing freedom, equality and humanity, which became the national motto of France. Saigon was also the place where Nguyen Tat Thanh chose to be the starting point for his journey abroad to look for ways to save the nation. Although he stayed in Saigon only for a short time (from February to June 1911), it is where he grew the most ambitious and mature in terms of awareness and action, culminating in the historical date of 5 June 1911.

In Saigon, Nguyen Tat Thanh visited workers’ areas, introduced himself to young workers and trainees at technical schools and met with those participating in Dong Du and Duy Tan movements. In his eyes, Saigon was much bigger and busier than all the places he had been to. It was also the place where he saw how thoroughly French capitalists organized their rule and exploitation and where he saw the unjust contrast between colonialists’ luxury living and the extreme poverty and suffering of people who had lost their country and had been enslaved. It was this exploration and experience that further motivated him to go abroad, specifically to the West.

Exactly 105 years ago, Saigon, on behalf of the entire country, had the privilege of seeing young patriotic man Nguyen Tat Thanh off, who boarded the ship Admiral Latouche-Tréville leaving Saigon port on a new journey with huge ambitions, extraordinary energy and genius intelligence to find a right way for Vietnamese. Although Saigon never had the chance to see him again, the people of the country gave the city a worthwhile award: naming it after Ho Chi Minh in 1976, exactly 40 years ago.

Having been called Ho Chi Minh City for 40 years and having implemented the renovation line with the rest of the country, the Party committee, authority and people of the city have inherited and constantly promoted the tradition of patriotism and dynamism and have creatively adapted lines and policies by the Party and State to the particular characteristics of the city. They know how to use the values of the 5 June 1911 event to the advantage of the renovation cause and have managed to bring outstanding development to the city. The city has always been an innovative and creative place and an economic and development engine of the country. Its achievements in economic, cultural, social, national defense, security and foreign relation areas have transformed its face and have turned it into a popular tourist destination and a livable place.

The Party committee and people of Ho Chi Minh City are extremely proud of its significance to a heroic, cultured nation and are determined to make the city increasingly civilized, modern and righteous and contribute to the construction and protection of socialist Vietnam according to the path Ho Chi Minh discovered.

Exactly 105 years ago, in 1911, from Saigon, patriotic young man Nguyen Tat Thanh left the country to seek ways to save it. With his intelligence, clear-sightedness and vision, he found Marxism - Leninism and became an excellent communist and international fighter. He found the right way for Vietnamese. With his vision, he shed light on the road of the Vietnamese revolution and enabled the Party and people to win victories after victories.

Nowadays, during the comprehensive national renovation, on the basis of suggestions, orientations and predictions facilitated by Ho Chi Minh’s vision, the entire Party and people are determined to apply and adapt creatively his legacy while building and protecting socialist Vietnam. More than any other places, Ho Chi Minh City - the roots of changes 105 years ago - as an engine of the country know how to appreciate and promote these values and to stay united, creative and innovative on the basis of Ho Chi Minh Thought to make the city increasingly civilized, wealthy and beautiful and deserve to be called Ho Chi Minh City.

Prof., Dr Nguyen Xuan Thang

Member of the Party Central Committee,

President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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