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Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:55
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Renewing the Party's theoretical work

The first theoretical Conference titled "Some major theoretical - practical issues in the process of promoting renewal in Vietnam and Laos" between the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Lao Revolutionary People's Party took place on 10th January 2012 in Hanoi. At the conference, PROF., DR. TA NGOC TAN, Member of the Party Central Committee, Director of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, and Vice Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council presented a speech titled "Renewing the Party's theoretical work".  The Political Theories Review is honored to introduce the speech of PROF., DR. TA NGOC TAN. 

An overview of the 11th National Assembly of the Communist Party of Vietnam


Photo: VNA

More than ever before, theoretical research and development has become necessary and urgent, as it is both the practical demand of the national development cause in Vietnam and the requirement of the country’s revolution in the coming period. Theoretical work contributes in determining the right path forward for the nation, is the scientific foundation for designing strategies and policies for national development, interpreting the arising practical issues, while continuing to assert the objective truth of the national construction theory and denouncing the distorting arguments of the hostile and opposing forces.

Reviewing the development periods of Vietnam from 1930 to the present, especially since the 6th Party Congress (1986), the Party has always been paying great attention to theoretical work and theoretical research and development. This work has illuminated the path of revolution in Vietnam, helping the country overcome dogmatism, subjectivism and voluntarism, and gradually gain enormous achievements in all fields of life. The 11th Congress of the Party (2011) further perfected the guideline for national building and development in the new period, which includes the requirements for renovating the economic growth model, perfecting the socialist-oriented market economy mechanism, strongly boosting human resources, continuing to promote the strength of great national unity, building a strong Party and the socialist Rule of law, creating a foundation for Vietnam to become a basically modern-oriented industrialized country by 2020. The task of national building and development in the new stage demands us to continue to renovate the Party's theoretical work, timely sum up practical lessons, clarify arising problems, and constantly perfect the theory on socialist construction in Vietnam.

1. The role of theoretical work in the cause of national development

Theory is the synthesis of knowledge at a high level of generalization, which includes principles, rules, laws, concepts, conceptions, common and essential relationships, generalized contents and specific knowledge, etc, which are generalized from reality, drawn from experiences, and scientifically forecasted. Thus, theory is not invariant, but is always changing, being supplemented and enriched by practice, experiences and scientific predictions. As time and life are moving on, some theoretical arguments may become out of date and no more relevant to reality. At the same time constantly changing and new problems may arise from reality that would require us to identify, interpret their nature, their laws of development, forecast their possibilities and trends of movement to timely put forth sound polices and decisions in the management and development of the country. This also means that theoretical work must be the frequent task of the Party. To successfully lead the revolution, it is necessary that the Communist Party must continue renewing, developing and improving the system of revolutionary theory; which firstly requires a correct and adequate perception of the role, position, and importance of theoretical work. In the new context of the country, theoretical work has the following aspects:

- Theory is the scientific foundation and ground and the practical basis for determining the development path for a country and a nation. A country cannot develop if it lacks a philosophy and strategy of development built on a scientific theoretical basis, in conformity with realties, adaptable to the times and up to the scale of values ​​of a civilized society. For a party in power, theory is the compass for its leadership, the foundation for determining the revolutionary objectives, path and method. V.I. Lenin asserted, "Without a revolutionary theory, there will be no revolutionary movement." A theoretical system is also the flag for rallying forces and uniting nationalities to implement the political tasks of the revolution. A party that lacks a correct theoretical system as the  illuminator cannot gather the people’s strength, create national and international unity and consensus; moreover, the unity within the Party itself cannot be achieved if its members are divided in the objectives, methods and other basic premises for attaining unity of will and unity of action.

- Theory is the basis to formulate the Party’s guidelines and the State’s policies and laws. The formulation can only be correct and effective if it is built on a sound and solid theoretical basis. In its turn, a scientific theoretical system will always be supplemented and enriched through a practical process of realization of the guidelines and policies, drawing of experiences, and research and studies for its constant renewal and perfection. Such theoretical system is not only a solid support for the designing of guidelines, policies and laws, but also provides scientific grounds - the irrefutable rationales for our struggle against the enemy’s sabotage schemes, to defend our country and protect our regime, Party , and the fruits of our revolution and national construction and development.

- Theory constitutes the condition for unity and unanimity in the Party and social consensus. A scientific, sound theoretical system consistent with the values ​​of human civilization is a key factor for building up trust of cadres, party members and all the people in the leadership of the Party, and in the management and administration of the State. For a political party to succeed in leading the country, first and foremost, the trust of its members itself will help the Party create an internal strength and make use of the collective intellect, seek and design sound policy lines, directions and appropriate and feasible policies, and gradually improve the legal system. Only by earning trust, first and foremost trust from its members, can the Party create a consensus in society, muster the collective strength of the mass in national construction and development.

- Theory is a scientific basis for interpreting problems arising from reality. National construction and development is a constantly moving cause in the world of globalization with rapid and unpredictable changes; many new problems arise that require us to clarify, identify their essence and their trends of movement, and to have corresponding attitudes and solutions to them. Reality is a multi-dimensional mosaic and is in constant movement and change, while theory does not always cover all aspects of social life; therefore, it should be continuously supplemented and perfected. An invariant theoretical system without supplementation and perfection will never be able to explain new practical problems and fulfill its guiding mission.

Earlier in the national liberation revolution, by thoroughly grasping and creatively applying, supplementing and developing the theories of revolution, our Party formulated proper strategies and tactics, led the people to win many great victories, and opened up a new era for national development. However, in some historical periods, due to our limited theoretical conception, we proposed a number of guidelines and policies which were not appropriate to the country's revolutionary reality, causing hindrances to our revolutionary course.The Communist Party of Vietnam founded and trained by President Ho Chi Minh takes Marxism - Leninism as the ideological foundation and compass for all its practical activities. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts are the application and development of Marxism - Leninism and the continuation of our national traditional values ​​ in the specific historical circumstances of Vietnam revolution.

Due to our sluggish renewal of theory, especially our limitations in theoretical research and development, in some periods we nurtured inappropriate awareness of the fundamental issues of socialism and our path to socialism. Some impatient strategies or mechanical applications of the available theoretical principles and models slowed down our development process, even worse at times driving the country into a severe crisis. Soon realizing the causes and consequences of its theoretical backwardness, our Party initiated the renewal of its thinking with the milestone of the 6th Party Congress (1986). It can be asserted that today’s great achievements of historical significance recorded over more than a quarter of a century of application of the renewal line are the inevitable logic and organically attributable to our resolute efforts to do away with the mechanical and stereotyped mode of thinking so as to creatively apply Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s thought to the specific conditions of Vietnam.

The achievements over the past 25 years attest to the important role of theory. The theoretical work and the renewal of theoretical thinking are both a premise and an irrefutable scientific foundation in this renewal process. Today, the country has entered a new stage of development, when we intensify our comprehensive reform, raise international integration to a new height, and create premise for Vietnam to basically become an industrialized country with modern-oriented by 2020. The next stage of development is situated in the context of profound changes within the country and all over the world: peace and cooperation remain the dominant trend but political instability, ethnic and religious conflicts, armed struggle, intervention, subversion, and disputes still occur; the revolution in science and technology, knowledge economy and globalization are taking place drastically, exerting profound impacts on the development of many countries; the global post-financial crisis and public debt crisis are posing challenges to developed capitalist countries; the international communist and workers’ movement have shown, though not yet clear, signs of recovery; the domestic economy faces many difficulties, requiring to be entirely restructured, etc... All these factors raise big challenges, as well as great opportunities and advantages to Vietnam to reach new heights, if the country adopts appropriate strategies and policies to make use of the opportunities and overcome the challenges. In this context, the theoretical work and theoretical research fail to meet the neo requirements and to keep up with the multidimensional, complex, and rapid developments in the domestic and international situations. The 11th Party Congress pointed out the direct causes of the weaknesses in the 5 years of implementation of the Resolution of the 10th Party Congress: "Our theoretical research and review of reality are not yet capable of meet the requirements."

Thus, renewing the theoretical works and theoretical research and development is the urgent demand of the actual development of the country. Theoretical research and development is not restricted to demonstrating the correct and scientific treats of Marxism - Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts and the path to socialism; but more than that, it should contribute to supplementing and perfecting the theory on socialist construction in Vietnam, predicting development processes in the country and around the world in service of national development. To make theoretical arguments into a scientific basis and rationales for the making of political decisions and designing of strategies and policies and a consultative and critical voice for this process, the theoretical work should be regularly innovated, developed; it should identify problems posed by reality, interpret them and find solutions to them. Theory must be considered as a fundamental science. Theoretical research must be done as a scientific activity with findings and creations; it should be objective and overcome passivity and the tendency of describing and illustrating political decisions and practical issues.

2. Fundamental directions in renewing the theoretical work

The requirements set by the theoretical work and theoretical research are as follows: further supplement and perfect the theoretical system; provide scientific rationales and well-grounded forecasts for the national development process and the path to socialism in Vietnam; it should serve as the scientific foundation and compass for the policy lines and guidelines of the Party and mechanisms, policies and laws of the state, build up unity and unanimity within the Party, promote the  collective intellect and strength of the Party and the whole nation; consolidate confidence of Party members and  the people of all strata in the Party and its leadership and in Vietnam’s path to socialism, and in the specific policies and guidelines; to expose and persuasively refute wrong and distorting arguments about our socialist model, our path to socialism and the big decisions of our Party and State. With the above requirements, we can see some fundamental orientations in the renewal of the Party's theoretical work should be as follow:

 - Further study, affirm and clarify the fundamental principles of Marxism - Leninism, issues that need to be supplemented and perfected on the basis of review of the realities of development in the country; those issues that should be re-perceived with collation and comparison to reality and the achievements of modern science. The study of Marxism - Leninism should be based on a holistic, dialectic and modern perspective; should seek essential and core problems; avoid details and should indicate the points to be re-perceived and those not suitable to the actual development of Vietnam in the current context. Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts and its applicability to the reality of the country should be studied in a systematic and comprehensive manner; the study should not be conducted like a movement or towards acclaim but should seek scientific arguments to be later generalized into a theory.

- Study the ups and downs of realistic socialism, the perestroika and collapse of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and the contemporary leftist movement; indicate whether the Marxist - Leninist theory is still appropriate with the world today or has been surpassed by history; seek to understand whether the collapse of the model of socialism in the Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe was due to the crisis of the theory, doctrinal mistakes or wrong, dogmatic, mechanical perceptions of a scientific theory.

- Continue to study our path of socialism building and development, uncover conflicts, seek motivations for development, analyze and point out trends, seek for appropriate steps to take in the actual conditions of Vietnam; study the lessons learned from, and the problems posed in the models of socialist construction in the world; summarize the experience in national building and development along the path of socialism; on this basis timely supplement and perfect the theory on the model of socialism and solutions  to implementing the cause of socialism construction in Vietnam; it is necessary to confirm the inevitable path to socialism of human society as well as the vivid and distinctive characteristics of Vietnam’s model of socialist construction.

– Study theories on economic relationships; paying focus on the core contents such as ownership, economic sectors, the socialist-orientated market economy, industrialization, modernization, international economic relations; seek for dynamics for economic growth, and suitable business models, and models of State management over the economy in general, and over specific sectors in particular. It is necessary to clarify that the economic theory of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine deals with substantive issues, identifies the rules of movement of the economy, basic economic relationships and is the tool for grasping the nature of economic relations; it is not contradictory to the modern economic theories and it uses quantitative tools and scientific achievements for analyzing and evaluating the economic behavior through the positivist and normative approaches.

- Further study socio-political issues, the political system, theories on the socialist state ruled by law, theories on the ruling Party, the building and rectification of the Party, the Party’s leadership over the State and socio-political organizations; on further strengthening and improving the political system in combination with promoting the people’s right to be masters, human rights protection and promotion of humanistic values of the socialist regime.

- Study theories on culture, cultural values ​​and orientations for cultural development in the context of globalization and international integration; the ability to acquire the cultural essence of humanity on the basis of preserving national cultural identity. In particular, it is necessary to renew, update and study the issues related to humans, ideology, ethics, lifestyle, development of science, technology, education, training and promoting of human resources in the context of market-orientated socialist economy and international integration.

- Focus on studying Ho Chi Minh's thought; discover distinctive features in his methodology and style - the creative Marxist who applied flexibly the Marxist-Leninist theory to the specific historical circumstances of Vietnam.

3. Continuedly innovating theoretical research and development

Renewing and improving the quality of theoretical research and development has been – and continues to do so – an urgent requirement. There have been many works, many arguments and suggestions, from macro level to specific measures, for developing a better and more scientific theoretical system. However, the inconsistency between the level and speed of development of the country, and those of the process of theoretical and development renewal presents difficulties and complexities in this regard. To keep on with the renewal of theoretical research and development, comprehensive reforms are required both in terms of guidelines and specific measures, as follows:

Firstly, renewing the thinking on theoretical work, and theoretical perception and research.Theoretical research should be considered as a fundamental science providing orientations for the research into the model of development and the path to socialism in Vietnam. In order to achieve that, first of all, theoretical researchers, intelligentsia and society should gradually change their mindset and their perception of theoretical work, of the new values​​, the new non-traditional approaches and overcome themselves. The process of renewing the thinking on theoretical work was already initiated and has made significant steps forward; however, to meet the requirements, it is necessary to overcome empiricism, formalism, conservativeness and the psychology of self-centredness in theoretical research and development.

Second, creating a democratic environment for theoretical research. Theoretical research  is a complex field, and to many cases, simplified differentiation, calculation or assessment cannot be applied; it is necessary to create a democratic environment in the organization and implementation of scientific researches, in the discussion and argument about complicated and sensitive issues so that researchers can take the bold to present their thoughts and approaches. Creating an democratic environment is also developing a scientific method of argument where discussers respect differences, know to listen to the opposing ideas; all aimed at seeking the scientific truth. The theoretical issues themselves are complex and can be accessed from many angles, so different stream of opinions are inevitable. a democratic environment for theoretical and  development theory require the involved person not to incriminate unjustly,  impute against those with, opposite opinion. In addition, proper attention should be paid to the strengthening of international cooperation in theoretical research and attracting of foreign experts who will provide more objective and diverse outlooks for the interpretations of the theoretical and practical issues in Vietnam.

Third, aim theoretical researches at solving of practical problems. The theoretical work does not have its own needs; it must answer the question of reality; the research results should be applied to improve reality. To accomplish such goals we should strengthen the relationship between political leaders and theoretical researchers. Political leaders should detect the practical problems posed that require research, review and evaluation, through which they will set forth the requirements, tasks, goals, and directions for the theoretical work. In contrast, theoretical researches should focus on finding scientific foundations and empirical evidence based on which the political leaders set forth proper guidelines and policies. Solving practical problems are not only restricted within the country, rather, we need to study and detect the movement and development of the world, on which we may develop into the theories in general, by this we can generalize, supplement and enrich our system of theories.

Fourth, we should attach importance to the summary of realities in the work of theoretical research. This should be done regularly in order to draw out the necessary lessons in the process of applying theories into giving guidance for realistic issues. Summary of realities allow us to assess the guidelines and policies of the Party and the State on an objective and well-grounded basis, thereby, seek appropriate solutions for specific steps and short-term goals for reaching strategic goals. Summarizing practice is not to supplement and perfect theories but also overcome the dogmatism and neo-scholasticism and subjectivism and voluntarism in theoretical studies. Summarizing of realities  in a scientific and appropriate manner serves as the basis to forecast the development trend in the future. This plays a very significant role in the formulation of national development strategies in the long term. Summarizing of realities should not only be limited to domestic context but should be expanded to include the experience of development of countries in the world, so that we may inherit the theoretical achievements of the world, while shorten our searching and experiment process, and avoid mistakes by learning from experience lessons.

Fifth, develop an evaluation mechanism. Developing and perfecting a mechanism for the evaluation of theoretical research works and the results of research and of researchers should be based on specific criteria. This is not an easy task because theoretical research is often associated with political activities, and it is difficult to measure the results of theoretical researches through the purely quantitative approach which research results exert indirect impacts, or can only be verified after a fairly long process. In the time to come, the evaluation mechanism will aim at reviewing the research fields, the research projects under way to identify  the issues that have been resolved, the contents that need further study; to indicate the new points of view in the previous researches and the points of views inherited, etc. which should serve as the orientation for the selection of fields and issues for research in the next phase. The review and evaluation of the fields and works of theoretical research also seek to refine the scientific values and discard unqualified products. We should be determined not to conduct theoretical research in the manner of a movement with scattered and portioned resources; we should avoid researches of eulogizing, illustrative and scholastic characters. Besides determining the main directions for theoretical research, each research project should demonstrate its new contents and creativity, its feasible applicability to specific areas, addresses and conditions for application, etc. Concerning the evaluation mechanism for theoretical researchers, besides the quantitative criteria for their works, they should demonstrate their new ideas, new and modern approaches and research methods, and scientific conclusions.

Sixth, building a pool of cadres in theoretical work. To have a pool of researchers sufficient in quantity, and refined in quality, first and foremost we should build a healthy, democratic and open environment. Unlike other fundamental sciences, theoretical research requires profound theoretical knowledge and deep understanding of socio-economics fields, and practical observations and experiences. Such high demands in an environment where freedom of speech is highly risky will not encourage the intellectual elite. Thus, many measures should be simultaneously combined in building a pool of theoretical workers to both meet their material needs with certain incentives and create a democratic and open environment, an open space for contrary arguments, a method and culture of scientific debate. To attract and build up a contingent of high quality researchers, besides material incentives, they should be respected, honored and there should be a mechanism for ensuring their personal safety. To raise the quality and effectiveness of theoretical research and development, the system of mechanisms and policies should be developed and carried out comprehensively, from training, selection, use, treatment of theoretical workers at the same time, and the environment for research and space for debate, and personal safety guaranteeing mechanism should be perfected.

Seventhly, perfecting the mechanism and policy for management over theoretical research. The system of mechanisms and policies on the management of theoretical research should be supplemented and perfected  in all the aspects ranging from the determining of directions for research, proposal of ideas, identification of subjects, methods of selection, and the conduct of research, testing, evaluation, and acceptance to publication and application of research results. In parallel with the above activities, it is necessary to put in place the mechanism of financial management and allocation. The mechanisms and policies related to the management of theoretical work and theoretical research should follow the principles of openness, transparency and easy implementation. For each link and each procedure, it is necessary to improve the policies that aim at quality of research results. For a theoretical research, political leaders and theoretical researchers should coordinate to determine the main directions; in the process of proposing ideas, we should promote the collective intellect of the entire society, of researchers, non-members of the Party and scholars abroad, by means of publicizing the ideas on the internet; themes of research should be decided by an evaluation committee with the participation of intellectuals, leaders and managers; the selection procedures should be undertaken in a competitive, objective and scientific manner. 

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