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The Marxist - Leninist theory of socio-economic forms and points that need to be supplemented or improved

(LLCT) - While conducting the fun-damental social sciences and humanities study, “Marxist theories of socio-economic forms that were applied in the 20th century and the current road to socialism in Vietnam,” the researchers and the Institute of Scientific Socialism organized a symposium of “Marxist theories of socio-economic forms: The scientific nature of the principles and points that have become obsolete” on June 26th, 2014 in Hanoi.

One of the major objectives of the study was to carry out systematic research that would look into Marxist - Leninist points of view regarding socio-economic forms in general, and in particular, communist socio-economic forms. It also aimed to observe and clarify the scientific and practical significance of the perspectives while serving as a correct methodological foundation for both the awareness of socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam.

Like any other theories, the Marxist - Leninist theory of socio-economic forms is not a multi-purpose, constant or absolutely correct key. Due to historical limitations, some of the predictions by K. Marx, F. Engels and V. I. Lenin in communist socio-economic forms and socialist society have become obsolete. Therefore, they need to be strengthened or revised which was what Marxist-Leninist predecessors demanded of their successors.

The organizing board of the sym-posium received thirteen papers, which focused on two main subjects.

First, the persistence of the Marxist - Leninist principles of socio-economic and communist socio-economic forms confirms their scientific, revolutionary and practical significance.

Second, due to historical limitations, certain predictions have become obsolete and need to be adapted or modified so they can become suitable for the new conditions of the modern world. 

As to the first subject, a number of papers continued to confirm the soundness of the Marxist - Leninist principles on contemporary socio-economic forms, particularly communist ones which underwent two stages of development and were of a completely different nature compared to their predecessors.

Confirming the scientific, revolutionary and practical significance of the birth and superiority of socialist and communist societies according to Marxist - Leninist historical materialism is a topical and practical task reflecting the class nature and fighting spirit of Marxism in general. Since the collapse of the socialist system in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, there have been concerns over the “historical end” of Marxism - Leninism and scientific socialism. According to some, Marxist - Leninist philosophers’ predictions of a socialist society model and the future of communist societies are anything but “frivolous or illusory” because socialism collapsed in the very places where it came into being, i.e. the Democratic Republic of Germany and Soviet Union.

The confirmation of the long-standing value of Marxism in general and its theory of communist socio-economic forms in particular reflects the consistency of the attitudes of the CPV, which aims to carry out national renovation based on Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh Thought, fitted to the new position and characte-ristics of the Vietnamese revolution.   

To researchers and teachers of political theories in Vietnam, such confirmation is one of their regular tasks requiring a serious scholarly attitude and critical thinking process rather than just quoting skills. Given its generalization nature, Marxism - Leninism in general and theories of socio-economic forms in particular mainly serve as metho-dological tools, making them incapable of addressing all questions.

In their papers presented at the symposium, authors employed a historical approach with developmental perspectives to justify the longstanding validity of Marxist theories of socio-economic forms in history and communism, which K. Marx and F. Engels predicted to become the ultimate, superior, suitable and profoundly humanitarian forms. Accor-ding to them, long-standing principles included the following:

The inevitability of socio-economic forms in history was a natural historical process.

Dialectical and materialistic per-spectives helped early Marxist - Leninist adopt a scientific outlook when approaching the process of development.

Socio-economic forms existing before communist ones were of the same nature because they, i.e. slavery, feudalism and capitalism, economically all depended on private ownership. Communist socio-economic forms would be special ones consisting of two different levels, socialism and communism. These were superior and most progressive socio-economic forms in history. Productive relations radically changed in that public ownership of productive material was established and gradually perfected. Therefore, relations between social classes also changed completely. As society developed, free development of each individual facilitated that of everyone else.

Shifting from one socio-economic form to another inevitably required a tran-sitional period.

The transition to socialism was a special one taking different forms depending on each nation’s history of development. In capitalist nations, such transitions would be direct, while in pre-capitalist ones it would be indirect.

Capitalist socio-economic forms could only turn into communist ones through revolutions carried out by workers led by communist parties. Such classes had to unite with peasants and other working classes so they could form an alliance and conduct socialist revolutions.

Establishing and perfecting communist socio-economic forms were international issues. In socialist societies, national and international interests had to be harmonized.

Socialist societies were what nations would inevitably achieve if they followed the path mentioned above. However, they did not have to take the same road and means or follow available formulas. Each nation would take into consideration its political, economic, cultural and social characteristics while developing a so-cialist society.

The most important things were that the fundamental principles of socialist and communist societies had to be creatively and appropriately applied so that communist socio-economic forms could be established.

Conceptions by K. Marx, F. Engels and V. I. Lenin of communist socio-economic forms took shape under specific historical circumstances, so they needed to be supplemented, revised and developed in all aspects in order to become theoretical foundations and correct methodologies for appropriate socialist society models. Marxism - Leninism was of a scientific, revolutionary and practical nature. Therefore, while comprehending and applying it, countries had to enhance, supplement and concretize it according to their specific conditions while adapting it to the times.

The fact that the socialist system collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe countries has pointed out the achievements, contribution and experience including success and failure of socialism and communism. Marxist - Leninist points of view or principles must be adhered. At the same time, they must be supplemented, modernized and nationalized in many areas according to specific national conditions. This is especially the case of the socialist society model and the road to socialism.

Socialist-orientating countries with successful reform or modernization provide solid evidence for correct application of existing principles or theories and creative development of new ones.

Participants at the symposium also pointed out arguments by K. Marx,

F. Engels and V. I. Lenin which had become obsolete and therefore needed to be revamped or fortified.

This was a new scientific branch which reflected the mettle, stance and fighting spirit of the theoretical work by communist parties in the world and which came into being at Marxist - Leninist predecessors’ request.

Analysis and evaluation of specific arguments related to various fields, especially predictions of the prospect or future of economic, political and social relations during socialist construction in countries is extremely necessary in research projects.

Prediction is one of the inherent characteristics of Marxism in general and theories of socio-economic forms in particular. Prediction can only be qualitative or relative rather than quantitative or absolute.

Many authors in and outside Vietnam recently pointed out classic arguments that had become history. For example: the relationship between socialism and modern capitalism, the transformation of economic structures and class-based societies in socialist and capitalist countries, the transition to socialism, and direct and indirect forms of transition and relationship between methods and violent or peaceful forms in carrying out revolutions. According to these authors, countries need to constantly adapt their ways and solutions so they can translate the socialist society model into a reality.

The famous arguments by K. Marx and F. Engels in the preface to their Manifesto of the Communist Party, which they finished after 25 years’ compilation, have always served as guidelines for communists to realize the obsoleteness of their solutions, forms, and revolutionary processes if realities were not constantly summed up in order improve theories.

Arguments that suggest solutions or calls for application of principles or theories always need to be context specific, i.e. taking into account economic, political, cultural and social relations.

On that basis, some of the papers at the symposium analyzed Marxist predecessors’ arguments from a modern perspective. They called for the need to enrich, improve or amend such arguments so they can become suitable for the current condition and countries’ specific situations.

The papers stuck to the theme of the symposium. They analyzed and systematized principles and theories of communist socio-economic forms in order to clarify their scientific, revolutionary and practical nature. They also pointed out arguments that had become obsolete and therefore needed to be revised and reinforced so that Marxism - Leninism could be promoted in the modern times.

At the symposium, the re-searchers discussed the following main topics.

- Approaches conducive to accurate evaluation of Marxist - Leninist principles and theories of communist socio-economic forms;

- Correct and long-standing principles but erroneous appli-cation; issues that led to the collapse or failure of the Soviet-style socialist society model;

- Correct awareness as well as reasonable and methodological evaluation of the principles and theories from politico-social perspectives;

- Specific arguments that needed to be analyzed. Their limitations in predicting socialist and communist society models from the points of view of the Marxist - Leninist forerunners; and

- Supplementing or revising special features reflecting the economic, political, cultural and social nature of socialist societies and their internal and external relations, in addition to those fea-tures predicted by the forerunners.

Other topics included tran-sitional periods, working classes and the role of ruling parties in a socialist construction.

The symposium shed light on recent achievements in the re-search looking into Marxism in Vietnam and helped promote the ideology in the country.


Assoc. Prof., Dr. Nguyen Quoc Pham

Institute of Scientific Socialism

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics


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