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Ho Chi Minh with the Communist International and creative application of Marxism - Leninism to the practice of Vietnamese revolution

(LLCT) - While searching for a way to save the country, Ho Chi Minh chose the Communist International (Third International). He voluntarily participated in the Third International and used a sharp mind and political sensitivity because, above all, he had found the goal that he had pursued on the path of this communist organization. After that, Ho Chi Minh became a communist, and he was educated and trained by the Communist International. He made important contributions to the international communist and worker movements and became an eminent international communist soldier. As a genuine Marxist, Ho Chi Minh creatively applied Marxism and Leninism to Vietnamese practical condition, leading the Vietnamese revolution to successive victories.

Keywords: Third International, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese revolution.

In the 100 years that have passed since the birth of the Communist International (Third International), the world revolution movement has gone through a lot of changes. However, the decisive tendency of the era is to keep on advancing in accordance with Marxist ideal. That multi-colored picture consists of not only dark moments - like the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe countries, the dominance of capitalism globally, and the difficulty of the left-wing Latin-American movement - but also light ones, such as the victory of mankind over the crisis of fascism and the success of reforms and renovation in socialist countries like China and Vietnam where the fundamental values of the people and nations in the Marxist - Leninist spirit are still acknowledged and pursued. In the heart of modern capitalism, progressive social forces have been gathering and persistently following genuine human values, and socialist factors keep on appearing.

In that 100-year period, there have been a lot of criticisms, even denials and defamation of the values of Marxism - Leninism and the Third International. The criticisms, denials, and defamation are very diverse, but what they have in common is trying to prove that the truth of history belongs to the bourgeoisie and that capitalism is history’s final destination. What is the truth of history? Below is the answer to that question through a study on the case of Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese revolution with Marxism - Leninism and the Third International.

Vietnam has a long time culture and civilization. Unfortunately, this country was dominated by a Northern feudal country for more than 1,000 years. Vietnamese people were thought to be unable to rise up to regain national independence, but a tradition of culture and civilization arose in 938, starting with the resounding victory on the historical Bach Dang River and opening the long-term independence and self-reliance of the nation.

During the modern era, colonialism raced to conquer colonies and the Vietnamese people once again faced invasion, becoming a French colony. In the face of losing the country, a great number of patriotic Vietnamese people rose up and raised the national flag, determined to restore national independence. However, these patriotic movements failed before the strength and brute force of French colonialists. In that context, more than ever, national independence was an urgent issue.

Like other enthusiastic Vietnamese patriots, teacher Nguyen Tat Thanh, who was the son of an upright and a straight-forward junior doctor in a patriotic and revolutionary rural area, built up a determination to save the country. He decided to leave so as to find a way to save the country and liberate the people. The journey began with a merchant ship at the Nha Rong Wharf on June 5th, 1911. Although he went to several countries, his goal was to reach the developed centers of mankind at that time. It was Nguyen Tat Thanh’s belief that only by going to the most developed places could he grasp the newest knowledge and theories.

Indeed, Nguyen Tat Thanh found the first draft of the theses on national and colonial issues by V.I. Lenin posted in two editions on July 16th and 17th, 1920, in the Humane Newspaper - the organ of the French Communist Party. The Theses of V.I. Lenin satisfied the burning aspiration of the young Vietnamese person. He was so happy that he cried, and he completely trusted V.I. Lenin and Leninism. That was also the particularly important basis that led him to choose the Third International and voluntarily become a communist soldier at the Tours Congress in December 1920.

Hence, the Third International brought the revolutionary light to Nguyen Ai Quoc, made him a communist soldier, and helped orient the view for him in the later revolutionary path. In the article, “The Path Which Led Me to Leninism”, it seemed like it was patriotism that led him to believe in Lenin rather than communism(1). This fact was also the convincing rejection to those who thought that Ho Chi Minh belonged to populism so as to separate him from the flow of the genuine Marxist thoughts.

By supporting the Third International and carrying out revolutionary activities enthusiastically as a member of the French Communist Party, Nguyen Ai Quoc became an eminent international communist soldier who made many outstanding contributions to the international communist and worker movements.

By participating in international activities with different positions and by being at the 5th Congress of the Third International as the Eastern Committee member in charge of the Southern Department of the Communist International, Nguyen Ai Quoc not only made important contributions to this organization but also received training both in revolutionary theory and practice through the missions assigned by the Communist International. By studying at the Eastern University and patiently studying, especially the practical activities, Nguyen Ai Quoc systematically grasped Marxist - Leninist theory. This was expressed clearly when he asserted: “There are a great number of theories and doctrines, but Leninism is the most genuine, reliable, and revolutionary”(2).

After becoming President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh answered a foreign journalist in 1946 who asked whether he was a communist Ho Chi Minh by saying: “I have studied a lot of theories and doctrines. Every theory or doctrine has its own advantage. The advantage of Confucius is the personal morality cultivation. The religious advantage of Jesus is the lofty kindness. The advantage of Marx is the dialectic working method. The advantage of Sun Yat-sen is that his policies are suitable for the condition of our country. Are they not the shared advantages of Confucius, Jesus, Marx, and Sun Yat-sen? They all seek happiness for people and society. If they were still alive today, I believe they would live in great harmony like close friends. I would try to become their humble student”(3).

According to the assignment of the Communist International, Nguyen Ai Quoc had conditions to contact, work, and organize revolutionary activities in France, Europe, China, and Southeast Asian countries. He not only founded, trained, and lead the Communist Party of Vietnam but also had a particularly important role in other communist organizations, including the Malaysian Communist Party. He was a close friend with several famous revolutionary leaders in the world. Through his vibrant and enthusiastic revolutionary activities, Nguyen Ai Quoc enriched his knowledge theoretically and practically.

It could be said that the Communist International contributed to the characteristics and personality of Ho Chi Minh as a genuine communist, and that he made outstanding contributions to it as well as the international communist and worker movements. He not only made great contributions when he was a member of the Communist International but also later on in his lifetime.

As a genuine communist with burning aspirations regarding independence for his nation and compatriots, from an enthusiastically patriotic youth to an eminent international communist soldier, Nguyen Ai Quoc gave great contributions to the Vietnamese revolution. It was him who made Vietnamese patriotism the motivation with great power. He was also the example and the incarnation of that patriotism as Late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong stated in the book, Ho Chi Minh: a Person, a Nation, an Era, and a Cause (1990): “He is the incarnation of the wisdom of the Buddha, the benevolence of Jesus, and the revolutionary spirit of Lenin, etc. All are compelled by him in a very natural appearance”.

The reason he became a symbol of the nation and era, a world cultural celebrity, and national liberation hero was because Ho Chi Minh came to Marxism - Leninism on the basis of era culture with unique values of political culture. Also, he acquired that doctrine without being stereotyped, dogmatic, and extreme. He knew how to apply the doctrine creatively and combined genuine patriotism with pure internationalism dialectically, which was suitable for Vietnam’s specific historical situation as well as that of the world revolution. That was the truth because he wrote in his Testament: “Regarding the world communist movement, as a person serving the revolution all my life, the more I pride on the growth of the international communist and worker movements, the more I feel hurt about the current discord between the brotherly parties! I hope that our Party will try their best to operate and make efficient contributions to restoring the unity of the brotherly parties on the basis of Marxism - Leninism and proletarian internationalism properly”.

Regarding this issue, we need to clarify the creative application of Ho Chi Minh for the two core issues. Firstly, what is the basis of the application? Secondly, how is the creative application expressed specifically?

For the first issue: the basis of Ho Chi Minh’s application is Marxism - Leninism. This is affirmed through the thoughts and statements of Ho Chi Minh that are more or less mentioned above in the article. We would like to show the other basis here.

In the Testament, he wrote: “... Thus, I shall leave these words in case I go to see Marx, Lenin and other senior revolutionaries”. This proves that Ho Chi Minh was a genuine Marxist all his life.

Here, what should be further stressed is that Ho Chi Minh did not learn Marxism by studying books. He said, “Learning Marxism does not mean learn by heart every sentence or word but by spirit and method”.

Because he learned Marxism in spirit and method, Ho Chi Minh did not fall into books and dogma. In contrast, an independent spirit and practical, critical thinking are the nature of Ho Chi Minh. It is also the nature and soul of Marxism as Lenin once stated that the living nature of Marxism is the detailed analysis of the specific historical situations. Thanks to that, Ho Chi Minh reached the level of creation.

Regarding the second issue: For the Vietnamese revolution, where are the creative applications and development of Ho Chi Minh shown?

During the 1920s, when he was assigned to work in Guangzhou (China) by the Communist International, Ho Chi Minh undertook the following 4 missions: firstly, establish and maintain relations between the Indochinese revolution and Communist International; secondly, collect and provide information about the situation of the colonies for the Communist International; thirdly, contact the local revolutionary organizations; and fourthly, organize the information and propaganda bases.

Implementing the above missions, Nguyen Ai Quoc organized many revolutionary activities for building organizations, training staff, and establishing propaganda agencies. He turned the New Vietnamese Youth League into the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League (in 1925), published the Youth Newspaper and held staff training courses that he directly taught. His lectures were made into the book Revolutionary Road (published in 1927).

It can be said that Revolutionary Road is our Party’s first important theoretical work directly drafted by Nguyen Ai Quoc. Although this work is concise and stylistically simple to meet the staff and people’s level of knowledge at that time, it expresses the two key issues of the revolution in a concise and lively manner. Firstly, it summarizes the most basic views of Marxism - Leninism. Secondly, it presents the essential, required methods and skills of a revolutionary Party and staff. Therefore, one can find Ho Chi Minh’s acquisition of the basic spirit of Marxism - Leninism as well as his creative application in this book.

The creative application was clearly expressed in the point that forces were required for the success of the revolution outside of doctrine as the core, revolutionary Party, and revolutionary staff. The basic forces were workers, farmers, students, merchants, and small landowners. Accordingly, they were all companies of the revolution. Unfortunately, it was in this creative application that he was misunderstood and even suspected of being a nationalist.

However, history proves that Ho Chi Minh’s view was completely correct because in a enslaved country with serious exploitation, in order to deal with the class target, one had to first deal with the national target. In order to fulfill the national target, people had to unite and gather the patriotic forces including intellectuals, landowners, and petty bourgeoisie.

In the Report on North Vietnam, Central Vietnam and Cochinchina to the Communist International in 1924, he earnestly suggested adding oriental ethnology to the Marxist theory.  The reasons were that the manifestation of social rules was very diverse, and that history was usually governed not only by economic elements but also countless other elements including culture. In Vietnam’s case, the social revolutions were not as typical as those in the European history, so revolutionary forces also had particular characteristics.

That view of Ho Chi Minh was right in the period of national and democratic revolution, and it is still right when the Party acknowledges that entrepreneurs are a force participating in building socialism in the transitional period and that the private economy is an important motivation of the national economy.

Not only was Nguyen Ai Quoc creative in the revolutionary forces but he also had other creations. Those were to define the revolutionary missions, and methods to mobilize revolutionary forces.

Regarding the revolutionary missions, Nguyen Ai Quoc prioritized the target of obtaining independence for the nation from the beginning on the basis of analyzing the specific situation of the Vietnamese revolution. Evidence for this was that he chose and believed in Leninism when he approached the first draft of V.I Lenin’s theses on national and colonial issues in spite of his sparse knowledge on that doctrine. It was because that doctrine openly supported the colonial people’s fight for independence.

Nguyen Ai Quoc applied Marxist theory creatively, especially through the Communist Manifesto when it was the belief of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that to successfully carry out the worldwide historical mission of the working class, the working class in each country should first obtain democracy and become a nation. He divided revolution into three types in Revolutionary Road: bourgeois revolution, national revolution, and world revolution. In national revolution, he advocated to prioritize national independence and conduct democracy for people. Therefore, after coming back to the country to lead the revolution, Nguyen Ai Quoc chaired the 8th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (May 1941) and advocated to change the orientation of instructing revolution strategy from the priority of targeting class, to the priority of a national target. According to him, if the national issues could not be handled and national independence could not be achieved, not only would the nation be enslaved forever, but the interest of class would never be obtained(4). It was also his firm belief when he ordered the General Uprising during the August Revolution (1945) that national independence needed to be achieved even if we had to burn the whole Truong Son Range.

As for the methods to mobilize revolutionary forces, apart from the internal aspect of the nation as mentioned above, another unique and appropriate creation was soon mentioned by Nguyen Ai Quoc. According to him, to fulfill the liberation mission of the working class worldwide, the working class in the mother country needed to help and support the struggle of the working class and the people in the colonies. This support and assistance was not only for the sake of the colonies but also the interest of the working class in the mother country and in the whole world. This was an important base that formed Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts about pure internationalism within the working class.

The above remark could be found in the early days when Nguyen Ai Quoc participated in the revolution.

At the opening session of the 5th Congress of the Communist International (June 17th, 1924), as a representative of the French Communist Party, Nguyen Ai Quoc raised the question, “I want to know whether the Congress sends the special calls to the colonies?” and suggested adding the words “to the colonial people” to the call of the Congress. At the 8th, 22nd, and 25th sessions of the Congress, he asserted in his speech: “The fate of the proletariat in the invading countries is closely associated with that of the exploited class in the colonies”.

From the above quotations, though very simple, Ho Chi Minh could be affirmed to be a genuine Marxist. He was trained in Marxism - Leninism, and not only was he loyal to the basic principles of Marxism - Leninism, but he also had creative theoretical and practical applications. As a result, Ho Chi Minh is not only the founder but also the Party’s educator and trainer who led our country’s revolution to successive victories. He deserves to be a revolutionary leader and genuine Marxist ideologist, loyal to the instructions of the Marxism - Leninism founders, who proves that Marxism is neither isolated nor dogmatic. Doctrine is an open system in which practice is taken as a measurement and creation is needed because the nature of revolution is creation.



(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, vol.10, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1996, p.127.

(2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, vol.2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2002, p.268

(3) Ho Chi Minh and Issues of Religions and Beliefs, Social Sciences Publishing House, Hanoi, 1996, p.152.

(4) Complete set of Party documents, vol. 7, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2000, p.133.

Assoc. Prof, Dr. Ho Trong Hoai

Institute of Scientific Socialism, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politic

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