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Wednesday, 24 November 2021 10:22
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Theoreticaland practical framework of socialism model and path to socialism in Vietnam

(PTOJ) - The success of 35 years of renovation first belongs to the Vietnamese people under the leadership of the Communist Party, based on our steadfastness and creative application of the revolutionary path that Ho Chi Minh and the nation have chosen, that is, the path to socialism. However, there are conflicting opinions about the model and development path of the country, including opinions demanding a review of the scientific and objective background of the chosen model and path to socialism in our country. This article, from the analysis and evaluation of theoretical and practical framework, asserts that the choice of the path to socialism in Vietnam is objective and scientific.


Source: Vietnam New Agency (VNA)

Regarding the path to socialism, Marxism - Leninism points out clearly that each nation, regardless of its development level, complexion, race, etc., has the right to choose its development path, and that is the sacred, inviolable self-determination right of nations. Based on history, the international background, and the specific context of each country, the application and development of socialism need adjustment, supplementation, and adoption of new perceptions. V.I.Lenin made a significant thesis as follows: It is inevitable for nations to advance towards socialism, but they can go by many different paths and ways, depending on their economic, political, social, and cultural characteristics(1).

The concept, perception of the model, and path to socialism directly determine the effectiveness, even the success or failure in building socialism. The outstanding Marxists paid much attention to this issue. K. Marx once criticized the mistakes of the future society’s model developed by the previous utopians, particularly the delusional conception of the socialist model of the French workers in the period 1848 - 1850 and the Lassallists. F. Engels also criticized the communists’ perception of socialism, which was “projected history”, disconnected to “reality”(2). Thus, both of them required that: “today, we must study thoroughly socialism, in all aspects and connections”(3).

Since the foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the ultimate goal of our revolution has been national independence and socialism, which can be achieved by the path to socialism, bypassing capitalism. The choice of socialism and the path to socialism is not determined by the subjective will of the Party or any individual. Indeed, it was a combination of objective conditions and subjective factors, including economic, political, cultural, and social backgrounds inside and outside our country, reflecting the nation’s aspirations. Remarkably, the Marxist - Leninist doctrine on human society development law, and socialism, the way to socialism; Ho Chi Minh Thought on national independence associated with socialism; the reality of the world revolution as well as the Vietnamese revolution over the past 90 years constitute the most important theoretical and practical foundations.

Firstly, one of the major discoveries of the Marxist - Leninist doctrine states that the law of human society development is the history of development and replacement of socio-economic formations: the primitive community, the slave-based society, feudalism, capitalism, and communism (its initial stage is socialism). Socio-economic forms are established and develop according to internal laws. The conformity between the relations of production and the development level of productive forces is the all-encompassing and dominant law. On that basis, Marxism - Leninism proves and affirms that capitalism is an advanced socio-economic form, a development level of human history(4). However, capitalism has created contradictions that will drive it to the point of negation and the inevitable birth of communism. The contradiction between the production relations’ increasing reliance on capitalist private ownership of the means of production and the increasingly socialized production forces will lead to increased social contradictions and conflicts, resulting in the serious conflict between the bourgeoisie and the workers and laborers. This class struggle will inevitably lead to a socialist revolution to negate capitalism and replace it with a new, better, and more progressive society - a socialist and communist society.

The reality of human history proves that K. Marx’s theory of socio-economic form is correct. No one can refute Marx’s theory about the historical development of human society, except for those who deliberately distort Marx with bad intentions.

For example, in developed capitalist countries, some people have adopted “The Three Waves” theory of Alvin Toffler, an American futurist, who divides the history of social evolution based on the push of three waves: agricultural civilization, industrial civilization, and post-industrial civilization. The theory of three waves is reasonable to some extent; it predicts future changes in society. However, it has many limitations. For example, Alvin Toffler’s theory has exaggerated the role of science and technology, denied class struggle, and has not identified the consistency in the dialectic development of the three waves. Besides, Toffler has merged the three socio-economic forms that Marx had pointed out before humankind entered the capitalist socio-economic form as one. In his theory, Alvin Toffler does not identify the owner of each society, the relationships between groups and social classes, and how humans can accelerate the progress towards future society. The deep roots of social changes, especially those in the superstructure, are also not clarified in his theory. Therefore, Alvin Toffler’s theory cannot play the role of a general theory of social evolution, or cannot replace Marx’s theory of socio-economic revolution. 

Along with pointing out the natural law that human beings will inevitably move to socialism, and communism, Marxism - Leninism has initially outlined the basic features of socialism for us to apply and develop in social life. Accordingly, the universal characteristic of socialism is that it is qualitatively different from the previous ones in the way it creates all conditions for class and social liberation, as well as free development of individuals and community. Marx once stated, “In the place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class antagonisms, there will be an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”(5).

The fundamental difference from previous utopian socialists is that Marxism - Leninism predicts the essential criteria and features of socialist society and indicates the path to socialism. Its scientific contribution is demonstrated in the methodology of directions, solutions, and ways of building socialism. Marxism - Leninism follows the consistent stance: The path to socialism has both universality and particularity, determined by a nation’s characteristics in terms of space and time. The application of universality principles must always be based on the ground of reality, in line with the specific conditions of each country(6); i.e., on the ground of time, the international situation, and the situation of each nation, it is necessary to adjust, supplement and develop new perceptions of socialism while applying methods and steps to build socialism. V.I..Lenin pointed out that we should not expect that “Marx or Marxists know all specific aspects of the road to socialism. That would be absurd. We only know the direction of that road and the class forces that will lead the way. To know in detail about how the road is, the experience of millions of people will show, when they take action”(7).

In their works, Marx, Engels, and V.I.Lenin always reminded the Communist Parties to avoid the simple perception of socialism; the mechanical stereotyping of models and paths to socialism from one country to another; exalting similarities, disregarding individual identities, particularities, and vice versa. According to them: “In England, it is not the same as in France, in France, it is not the same as in Germany, in Germany, it is not the same as in Russia”(8).

The predictions and proposals of Marxism - Leninism on the criteria, preeminent and progressive characteristics of socialism, and hosts of measures to build socialism in social life, are still valuable nowadays. Those are the theoretical and methodological basis for socialist countries, including Vietnam, to apply to the construction of socialism in practice.

Secondly, the victory of the Russian October Socialist Revolution in 1917 opened a new era, the era of transition from capitalism to socialism on a worldwide scale(9). The inevitability of the new era has opened up possibilities and conditions for nations to move up to socialism, bringing new awareness to the concept and solutions to solve national liberation radically.

For over 70 years of building socialism, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries achieved significant achievements: strong economic growth, large-scale and modern facilities construction, and betterment of people’s material and spiritual lives. From a poor and backward Russia, it became a world power, making great strides in scientific research, space conquers, powerful military and defense capabilities(10), created conditions for the national liberation movement, and shaped the path of non-capitalism development in a series of countries around the world. Hundreds of countries have achieved national independence, making a decisive contribution to the people’s struggle for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress in the world(11). The strength and achievements of real socialism, the superiority of the socialist regimes in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries have awakened humanity, created the ability to unite peoples to preserve peace and push back the risk of destructive war, force capitalists to adjust policies in favor of workers(12); create realistic possibilities for backward countries to move directly to socialism.

For the Vietnamese people, in light of Marxism - Leninism and the Russian October Revolution, leader Nguyen Ai Quoc found the “Miracle Handbook” as the way to save the country for the Vietnamese people. 

The collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and eastern European countries by the end of the 20th century resulted from objective and subjective reasons. On the one hand, the cause of building socialism was a completely new, challenging, complicated, unprecedented road. On the other hand, the enemies attempted to overthrow the socialist regime by sophisticated and blatant intervention and “peaceful evolution”. However, the most immediate cause is that the Communist Party in these countries made severe mistakes in terms of political, ideological, and organizational lines; dogmatically applying Marxist-Leninist theory, which was far from Marxism - Leninism, especially the betrayal of socialist goals and ideals, and the betrayal of Marxism - Leninism by the top leaders of the Party. On discussing the causes of the disintegration of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the collapse of socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, comrade Nguyen Phu Trong pointed out: “They underestimated the issue of class struggle, emphasizing the common values of all mankind, downplaying the dictatorship of the proletariat, emphasizing pacification and human rights, arguing that capitalism had changed its nature, reviewing the historical mission of the working class, emphasizing the national issue, downplaying imperialism, emphasizing the issue of publicity, and underestimating the centralized discipline within the Party. Those factors led to the collapse of real socialism and ideological disintegration of the Party”(13); “They misunderstood Marxism - Leninism on implementing the basic principles and in the application of the methodology of dialectical materialism”(14).

Thirdly, in the early years of the 20th century, Vietnam’s revolution was in crisis about the way of national salvation and liberation. While many patriots followed the bourgeois revolution, Ho Chi Minh, with his experience from living and working overseas in 30 nations for ten years, pointed out that the French bourgeois revolution and the American bourgeois revolution were incomplete revolutions(15), “which only benefited a few people”.

Ho Chi Minh found a solid theoretical basis for national salvation and national liberation, which was the path of the proletarian revolution when he encountered Marxism - Leninism and the Russian October Revolution. He affirmed: “only socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed peoples”(16) and “the national liberation revolution must develop into a socialist revolution in order to achieve victory completely”(17). “There is no other way to save the country and liberate the nation than the proletarian revolution”(18). That ideology was affirmed by our Party and followed by the whole nation. It was the choice of Vietnamese history, of the entire Vietnamese nation. With that right choice, Vietnam solved the crisis in the line of national salvation, successfully conducted the August Revolution in 1945 and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Then, under the Party’s leadership, our country defeated the most powerful empires to maintain the country’s sovereignty, the people’s mastery, and make international friends admire.

The chosen model and path of national development is not a product of a subjective will or an individual’s mind, but of a whole process from awareness to practical action and implementation of that society model. As affirmed by Marxism - Leninism: “For us, communism is not a state to be created, nor an ideology that reality must comply with. We call communism a realist movement that abolishes the present state. The conditions of that movement are created by existing preconditions”(19), and “the development of socio-economic forms is a natural-historical process”(20).

Before the national renewal, the Party’s awareness of the socialist model and the path to socialism was theoretically based on Marxism - Leninism on the universality and particularity of socialist society; experience of the socialist countries, especially the Soviet Union, and the historical circumstances of Vietnam. This perception, on the one hand, achieved certain successes in most areas of social life. However, on the other hand, the Communist Party of Vietnam also recognized some limitations. For example, it did not identify the unique characteristics of Vietnam’s socialist model and the path to socialism, skipping the capitalist regime while being a pre-capitalist country, starting from a low economic, social, and cultural level.

The above-mentioned limitations and shortcomings have plunged the country into a serious socio-economic crisis in the 80s of the twentieth century, posing urgent requirements for renewal.

In the renewal, based on steadfastly and creatively applying Marxist - Leninist theory on the necessity and fundamental characteristics of socialism, the path to socialism; on summarizing the lessons of success and limitations in building socialism of socialist countries and Vietnam; analyzing the world’s context and situation, our Party affirmed: “According to the evolutionary laws of history, mankind will move towards socialism”; “Going to socialism is the aspiration of our people, the right choice of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh, in line with the evolution trend of history”(21). Starting from the 6th Congress (December 1986), our Party has overcome the above-mentioned limitations and shortcomings in the awareness of socialism and measures to build socialism. In the Platform for National Construction in the Transitional Period to Socialism in 1991 and the Platform for National Construction in the Transition to Socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011), the limitations and shortcomings in the perception of the model and the path to socialism in our country in the past (hurriness, subjectiveness, failure to comply with objective laws, etc.), were basically overcome and well-perceived. The system of theoretical views on the renovation and the path to socialism in Vietnam has been basically formulated(22). The first step was to clarify the “model of Vietnamese socialism” by identifying the eight characteristics of the socialist society that the Vietnamese people had built(23). Clarifying the eight directions of nation-building in the transitional period to socialism(24) and identifying the nine major relationships(25) that need to be resolved has provided better awareness of the path to socialism bypassing capitalism in Vietnam.

It can be affirmed that the eight features, eight directions, and nine significant relationships have formed an organic cycle of the theory of Vietnamese socialism. The model and path to socialism in Vietnam have been outlined in great detail and are “better and clearer and gradually realized”(26).

In order to affirm that the model and path to socialism in Vietnam is entirely theoretical and practical based, and at the same time, to resolutely fight against the distortions by hostile forces about the choice of this path, as well as to overcome the political ambiguity of a part of cadres and party members, first of all, it is necessary to implement the following issues earnestly:

Theoretically, it is necessary to improve the quality of political education, fostering Marxist - Leninist theory and Ho Chi Minh Thought. Continue to promote studying and following Ho Chi Minh Thought, morality, and style. Additionally, it is necessary to carry out the fight to expose the wrong views of the hostile forces on Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, to make all classes of people, first and foremost, cadres, Party members well aware of the problem, improving their “self-immunity” against distorting claims. In particular, the current critical task is the implementation of Politburo’s Resolution No.35-NQ/TW “on strengthening the protection of the Party’s ideological foundation, fighting against false and hostile views in a new situation”. It is necessary to continue to clarify the theoretical and practical basis, to perfect the theoretical system of socialism and the path to socialism in our country in the new situation. Systematize and disseminate theoretical achievements that our Party has made based on correct, creative application and development of Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought in the renovation process. To make Marxism - Leninism in general, the theory of socialism and the path to socialism, in particular, become increasingly popular and accessible to the masses, it is necessary to publish some books of this discipline soon, such as on basic knowledge of Marxism - Leninism; on socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam. On the other hand, continue to translate (and re-translate) typical works of Marxism - Leninism on socialism and the road to socialism which were initially written in German and Russian to correct some terms.

Practically, it is necessary to strengthen measures to realize the ideal of socialism by taking concrete actions. In particular, many measures must be synchronously implemented in all fields, from economy, politics, culture, and society to national defense, security, and foreign affairs. However, first of all, we must perform successfully the critical tasks of the transition period specified in the Documents of the Party Congresses of the 11th and 12th tenures, including “four pillars of development”: Socio-economic development is pivotal; Party building is essential; Culture and human development are the spiritual foundation; Ensuring national defense and security is important and on a regular basis(27) and the “three breakthroughs”: Perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy mechanism; Rapidly developing human resources, especially high-quality human resources; Building synchronous infrastructure(28). Notably, the implementation of the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 11th and 12th tenures on “Some urgent issues of current Party building” needs to be thoroughly grasped, in order to make our Party genuinely moral and civilized, cadres and Party members truly people’s public servants, thus, contributing to strengthening and maintaining people’s trust in the Party and the socialist regime.



(1), (6) V.I. Lenin: Complete Works, vol.30, National Political-Truth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p.160, 160.

(2) K. Marx and Engels: Complete Works, vol.22, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1995, p.758.

(3) K. Marx and Engels: Complete Works, ibid, vol.19, p. 305.

(4) They said that not within a century, capitalism created more production forces than the human can. See K. Marx and Engels: Complete Works, ibid, vol.4, p.603.

(5) K. Marx and Engels: Complete Works, ibid, vol.4, p.628.

(7) V.I. Lenin: Complete Works, vol.34, ibid, p.152-153.

(8) V.I. Lenin: Complete Works, vol.4, ibid, p.232.

(9), (17) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, vol.15, National Political-Truth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, p.388.392.

(10) Commenting on the great achievements of the Soviet Union, British Prime Minister Churchill. (anti-Soviet and anti-Stalin) wrote: “From 1920 to 1960 from Russia with the plow, it turned into the Soviet Union with hydrogen bomb”, see Some Reminiscences on Stalin, Institute of Scientific Information, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics, Hanoi, 2004, p.83.

(11) See: Nguyen Ngoc Long (Editor): Marxism - Leninism with the destiny and future of socialism, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2009, p.103-105. 

See: Vu Khoan: Russian October Revolution - 100 years in retrospect, Proceedings of the Conference “100 years of Russian October Revolution and real socialism (1917 - 2017), Historical value and meaning of the times”, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018, p.59-60.

(12) A.Dinoviev (a person with anti-Soviet views, then moved to the US) wrote: “If I could do it all over again, I would choose the Soviet era”, Documentary Information - Scientific Information Institute, HCMA, No. 7-2006, p.13.

(13), (14) Nguyen Phu Trong: Why the Communist Party of the Soviet Union disintegrated, Communist Review, No.4-1992, p.20, 22.

(15) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.296.

(16), (18) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.12, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.563, 30.

(19) K. Marx, F. Engels: Complete Works, vol.3, sdd, p.51.

(20) K. Marx, F. Engels: Complete Works, vol.23, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2002, p.21.

(21), (23), (24), (28) CPV: Documents of the 11th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.69-70, 70, 70, 106.

(22) CPV: Complete Party Documents, th65, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018, p.178.

(25) See: CPV: Documents of the 11th National Party Congress, National Politic Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.72; Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing house, Hanoi, 2016, p.80.

(26), (27) CPV: Document of the 12th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016, p.80, 17.


Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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