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Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure): Cultural strategy of the Party in the renovation period

(LLCT) - Over 20 years of implementing the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure, 1998), Vietnamese culture has achieved a lot of new values and developments that are imbued with national, humane, democratic, scientific and popular spirits. However, the achievements in the field of culture have not been matched with the available potential and have not had strong influence on building up the people's healthy cultural environment. Therefore, it is necessary to further renovate the leadership of the Party and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State management over culture, focusing on building culture inside the Party and the State apparatus. Each executive committee, authority, union, staff and Party member needs to seriously consider their responsibilities in leadership, direction and management, as well as draw on their experiences to implement the Resolutions well in the coming period.

1. Twenty years ago, on 16 July, 1998, the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) promulgated the Resolution on building and developing an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity. The Resolution has further augmented, developed, deepened and diversified the treasure of cultural theories and the guidelines of the Party as well as opened the way for the practice of building and developing Vietnamese culture to obtain great achievements over the past two decades(1).

The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) raised a more extensive, comprehensive and encompassing concept of culture, culture and development, cultural heritage, identity and characteristics of Vietnamese culture, construction and development of an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity.

Here, culture is mentioned in a broad sense, including the main areas that form cultural life; such as thought, morality, lifestyle, cultural environment, education and training, science and technology, literature and arts, mass media, cultural exchange with foreign countries, cultural regulations and institutions, and so on. With such encompassing characteristics, culture is considered to be the spiritual foundation of society, that is both a goal and a motivation for socio-economic development. Building and developing the economy must aim at culture, a just and civilized society, and a comprehensively developed people. Caring for culture means caring for consolidating the spiritual foundation of society. Lack of an advanced and healthy spiritual foundation will lead to no sustainable socio-economic development. Culture is the result of the economy as well as the motivation for economic development. Cultural factors must be in close connection with social life and activities concerning such aspects as politics, economy, society, law, rules, etc., so that they can turn into the most important internal sources of development.

Vietnamese culture is the fruit of thousands of years of labor and creation and resilient struggles of the community of Vietnamese ethnic groups to found and defend the country; it is also the culture of exchange and acquisition of the quintessence of various civilizations in the world to constantly improve itself. Vietnamese culture has tempered the soul, courage and character of the Vietnamese, which brightens the glorious history of Vietnam. Vietnamese culture is unified but diverse in the community of Vietnamese ethnic groups. More than 50 ethnic groups in Vietnam have their own cultural values and aspects. Those values and aspects complement each other, diversifying Vietnamese culture and reinforcing national unity as a basis for maintaining equality and promoting the cultural diversity of the brotherly ethnic groups.

Vietnamese cultural identity includes the sustainable values, and quintessence of the community of Vietnamese ethnic groups, which have been cultivated throughout the thousands-of-years history of founding and defending the country. It is the passionate patriotism, national self reliant will, unity of mind and community sense of connecting individuals, families, villages and nation, compassion, tolerance, respect for love, moral standards, industriousness, creativity in labor, behavioral subtlety, simplicity in lifestyle, etc. National cultural identity is also clearly shown in the forms of expression that manifest the national and unique characteristics. The national cultural heritage is an invaluable asset that is a connection of national community, a core of national identity, and a basis for creating new values and cultural exchanges.

The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) has identified the directions, directive views, great tasks and solutions to building and developing Vietnamese culture. The general direction of the cultural cause of Vietnam is to promote patriotism and the tradition of national unity, the sense of independence and self-reliance to build and defend the socialist Fatherland, to build and develop an advanced Vietnamese culture full of national identity, to acquire  the quintessence of human culture, to make culture pervade the whole social life and activities such as individuals, families, groups, communities, residential areas, aspects of daily life and people’s relations, and to produce a noble spiritual life, high intellectual level and scientific development in Vietnam that should serve efficiently the cause of industrialization and modernization for the purpose of enriching the people and creating a strong country and a just, democratic and civilized society in order to move forward to socialism.

The culture that we should build is an advanced culture imbued with national identity. “Advanced” means patriotism and advancement whose core contents are the ideal of national independence and socialism in accordance with Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, targeted at the people, for their happiness and diverse, free, and comprehensive development in the harmonious relationship between individuals and community and between society and nature. Advancement is not only in the ideological content but also in the form of expression, and the means to convey the content. Protection of national identity must be associated with expanding international exchange, acquiring the good and the advanced in the cultures of other nations. Preserving national identity must involve fighting backwardness and obsolescence in old customs, habits and practice.

Building and developing culture is the cause of all people, led by the Party, in which intellectuals play a vital role. All the Vietnamese striving for a rich people, strong country, just, democratic and civilized society participate in the cause of building and developing national culture. Workers, peasants and intellectuals are the foundation of the great national unity bloc as well as the basis of building and developing culture under the leadership of the Party and the State. Intellectuals attached to the people play a leading role in the cause of cultural building and development.

Culture is a front. Building and developing culture is a long-term revolutionary cause requiring revolutionary will, patience and caution. In developing culture, “building” should go together with “combat”, where “building” is the main element in order to preserve and to promote the valuable cultural heritage of the nation, to absorb the cultural quintessence of the world, to create and cultivate new values towards truth, goodness and beauty imbued with national, humane, democratic and scientific spirits. At the same time, “building” must go together with “combat” against deviatory, wrong, backward and reactionary thoughts, behaviours and cultural practices. It is vital to patiently carry out the combat against unsound customs and bad habits, improve the combativeness and struggle against all attempts to use culture for conducting the plots of “peaceful evolution”, “self-evolution”, “self-transformation” and “color change”.

The cause of preserving and promoting the outstanding values of the national cultural heritage, creating new socialist cultural values and making such values permeate the social life and activities of everyone so that the values and customs become the advanced and civilized thinking is a hard and difficult revolutionary process, requiring a lot of time, efforts, patience, caution, persuasion and exemplification of the Party, “Party members go ahead of the people”.

The Resolution has identified ten specific tasks to build and develop culture: (1) to build up the Vietnamese man in the new revolutionary period with good virtues, (2) to build a cultural environment, (3) to develop literature and art, (4) to preserve and promote cultural heritage, (5) to develop education, training, science and technology, (6) to develop and manage the mass media well, (7) to preserve, promote and develop ethnic cultures, (8) to provide a cultural policy towards religion, (9) to expand international cultural cooperation, (10) to reinforce, build and improve cultural regulations and institutions.

Together with the synchronous and comprehensive implementation of the above ten tasks, the Resolution requires emphasis on implementing the task of building ideals, morality, lifestyle and a healthy cultural life in society. This is the urgent, focused task in the cause of building culture, first in the organizations of the Party and State, then in mass organizations and families.

The Resolution has also raised four major solutions to building and developing culture: (1) to launch the patriotic education campaign in association with patriotic competition and the campaign: “The whole population unite to build up cultural life”, (2) to enact and promulgate laws and policies on culture, (3) to increase the resources and means for cultural activities, (4) to enhance the effect of Party leadership in the field of culture.

The Resolution states that to ensure the leadership of the Party in the field of culture, it is necessary to build culture from within the Party and State apparatus themselves as President Ho Chi Minh taught “Our Party is virtuous and civilized”.It is a must to promote education of Ho Chi Minh Thought and morality across the whole Party, people and army. Moral culture and healthy lifestyle must first be expressed in all Party and State organizations, unions, State employees, officials, Party members, parents, and teachers. From the total aspects of the model of organizations and personnel in the Party apparatus, State, and unions, the leader’s role in implementing the campaign “The whole population unite to build up cultural life” can be promoted. Modeling is the content as well as the critical method in the Party’s cultural leadership.

2. It can be affirmed that the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) has quickly come to life and received the warm welcome of officials, Party members and all social strata. The views and thoughts of the Resolution have been thoroughly grasped and deployed, not only for cultural activists, leaders and managers but also for all walks of life. Why is the Resolution accepted so warmly? Because the Resolution correctly addresses the fundamental theoretical issues in terms of culture and cultural development and Vietnamese culture in the context of industrialization and modernization, market economy development and international integration. The Resolution has identified the strategic basic orientations as well as the key points that need to be addressed in the face of the urgent issues posed to our society today in the field of culture. The Party clearly showed the cultural essence and sensitivity in face of the emerging issues of culture within the Party and in social life, set the target, orientation, feasible solutions and effect for building and developing the culture of Vietnam in the new period.

The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) has brought into play the great effect on the practice of building and developing our national culture over the last two decades. The result of implementing the Resolution has created a lot of new cultural values, looks and aspects of Vietnamese culture that are imbued with national, humane, democratic, scientific and public spirits. There have been great achievements in building up the Vietnamese man, forming a cultural environment, developing education, training, science and technology, developing art and literature, preserving and promoting the values of cultural heritage, policies over religion, cultural exchange with foreign countries and building and improving cultural regulations and institutions. The training of human resources, especially high quality human resources, is focused. The campaign “The whole population unite to build up cultural life,” has given rise to many humanitarian values in the community with a widespread influence on the cultural life of the whole country, and it has achieved a strong response, making its contribution to promoting socio-economic development. The percentage of poor households has decreased, and that of prosperous and rich ones increased. The cultural and spiritual life of the people is becoming more and more improved. There are a lot of positive changes in the practice of a civilized lifestyle at weddings, funerals and festivals. A number of traditional cultural values are preserved. The cause of building and developing Vietnamese culture and man are cared for by authorities at various levels and sectors from central to local levels with socio-economic policies. The task of building up the Vietnamese man to meet the requirements of the period of industrialization, modernization and international integration has led to significant changes, initially creating new values for people with the virtues of social responsibilities, civil awareness, democracy, activeness, creativity and aspiration to rise. Building culture and people is more closely connected with constructing and developing the country; building and developing culture is more closely linked with building and developing the Vietnamese man. The system of cultural regulations and institutions has been further built and improved. The traditional cultural values of each ethnic group, region and area are inherited. The cultural heritage of ethnic groups is conserved and bettered. Socialization of cultural activities is more and more expanded. More and more organizations and individuals participate in activities and contribute resources to cultural development. There are new developments in literature and art. The mass media are growing rapidly in terms of type, size, strength, technical means and social impact. The material and spiritual life of the people has been improved. State management over culture has been strengthened. International exchanges and cooperation in culture is being expanded with a lot of developments.

The Party’s guidelines on associating economic growth with cultural development, promoting social progress and equality, developing the economy for cultural aims and development have become the guiding idea for many development programs and plans. The leadership of the Party, management of the State, participation of the whole political system, and participation of all strata of people are the decisive factors for making positive changes in the cause of developing culture and building up the new man.

However, in comparison with the achievements in other fields of social life (politics, economics, defense, foreign affairs, etc.), achievements in the field of culture are not matched and influential enough to have effective impact on building up the Vietnamese man and a healthy cultural environment. In several areas, cultural and spiritual life is still poor and monotonous. The cultural enjoyment gap between mountainous, remote areas and urban areas, and among the people, is slowly narrowed. The preservation and promotion of cultural heritage values are not highly effective. The mass media system is developed with little planning, which causes waste of resources, and management may not keep pace with development. Some media agencies have the sign of commercialization, or divergence from set principles and purpose, and fail to fulfill the function of orienting public opinion and building up people. The system of cultural institutions and technical facilities for cultural activities are insufficient and weak, and they are degraded, asynchronous and of low effectiveness in some places. The easy import, circulation, absorption, and poor selection of foreign cultural products have a negative influence on the cultural life of some people, especially the young. More seriously, the “degradation of the political thought, morality and lifestyle in the Party and society tends to increase”(2). “Some aspects of morality and lifestyle are worrisomely degraded (...). There exist unhealthy, exotic expressions which are at variance with our traditional customs and habits in the cultural environment. Social evils and some kinds of criminals tend to increase”(3). “The degradation of political thought, morality and lifestyle of a large number of staff and Party members, bureaucracy, corruption and wastefulness have not been curbed yet. Crime and social evils take place in a complicated manner, and some aspects of social morality are seriously degraded”(4). It can be said that this is a big limitation and the most pressing issue in our current socio-cultural life, which is recognized in the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure); unfortunately, we do not have enough focused effort to prevent and check them.

It can be asserted that, up to now, the evaluations on the current situation of our national culture, directions, directive views, tasks and solutions to building and developing, as specified in the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure), have remained their topical feature. In order to continue fulfilling the Resolution in the coming period, each Party committee and authority, union, official and Party member should seriously consider their responsibilities in the task of leading, directing and managing, draw on the experiences in leadership, cultural management, promotion of cultural development, construction and reorganization of the Party; and resolutely combat “against degradation of political thought, morality, lifestyle and the expressions of ‘self-evolution’ and ‘self-transformation’ internally. It is vital to resolutely fight against bureaucracy, corruption, wastefulness, individualism, opportunistic lifestyle, pragmatism, factionalism, “group interests”, mismatch of words and deeds, etc”(5). The measures to manage officials and Party members should be enhanced. Revolutionary morality should be subjected to further cultivation. Self-criticism and criticism should be promoted. Any officials and Party members who violate the Party’s discipline and State law must be strictly punished and those who are degraded and corrupted in political qualities, political thought, morality and lifestyle must be expelled from the Party. Performance of the Resolutions of the 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (11th, 12th tenures) on Party building and rectification, raising the Party’s leading and fighting capacity and consolidating the trust of officials, Party members and people in the Party should be further promoted. The following goals must be achieved: “Building the Party clean and strong in terms of politics, thought, organization and morality; further promoting the study and following of Ho Chi Minh’s Thought, morality and lifestyle, considering them as the regular work of the Party organizations, various levels of authorities, socio-political organizations, localities and units”(6).

The leadership of the Party should undergo further innovation, and the validity and effect of State management over culture should be improved. The leadership of the Party in the field of culture should be enhanced and improved. The Party’s leadership should be renovated in the direction of ensuring the accordance of culture, literature and art, and the development of the press in the right orientation of politics and thoughts of the Party, individual freedom and democracy so as to create the basis for promoting social responsibilities and citizen’s obligations with proper goals, overcoming leadership loosening or lack of democracy and the limitation of creative freedom. The validity and effect of the State management over culture must be renovated and enhanced. Institutionalization and concretization of the Party’s viewpoints and guidelines on culture into a system of policies and laws for implementation must be boosted. The system of legal documents, mechanisms and policies on culture should be reviewed, supplemented and improved. Cultural institutions need to be built and developed. Planning, training, cultivating and arranging cultural leaders, managers, scientific staff, leading specialists and grassroots staff must be seriously considered. The investment of the State in culture must correspond with economic growth. Socialization should be promoted so as to mobilize resources for investment in developing Vietnamese culture and building up the Vietnamese man, etc.

The decisive important task for development of culture is to build up the Vietnamese man - as subject of Vietnamese culture. Culture is developed for the perfection of personality and man is built up to develop culture. In building culture, the focus is on building the comprehensively developed Vietnamese man. In man-building, the focus is placed on fostering his patriotism, national pride, thought, morality, healthy lifestyle and personality perfection.

“Building the comprehensively developed Vietnamese man (...) should become a strategic goal of the development strategy”(7). This can make culture a firm spiritual foundation of society, and the important internal strength to ensure sustainable national development and protect the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

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Endnotes:

(1) CPV: Document of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure), National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1998.

(2) CPV: Document of the 9th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (11th Tenure), Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2014, p.44-45.

(3), (4), (5), (6), (7) CPV: Document of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p.125, 61, 202, 202, 126.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Duy Bac

Vice President, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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