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Ho Chi Minh’s viewpoints on prevention and combat against manifestation of degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyles of party members

(LLCT) - As the founder, leader and trainer of the Communist Party of Vietnam, President Ho Chi Minh always paid special attention to building a transparent and strong Party in both aspects: establishing principles, regulations and standards on ideology, politics, organization and ethics to unify the will and actions in the Party; and at the same time, pointing out the misdeeds and bad habits that each cadre and party member should prevent, especially since the Party is a ruling Party. This article deals with His views on the prevention and combat against bad habits and vices among cadres and party members, with the meaning of preventing and combating degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle of party members.

Keywords: Ho Chi Minh; degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle; cadres and party members.

1. Ho Chi Minh pointed out the manifestations of degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle among cadres and party members

In the course of leading the Vietnamese revolution, in order to prevent and combat degradation in the Party, Ho Chi Minh repeatedly pointed out the mistakes and shortcomings that reflected the degradation in politics, morality and lifestyle that cadres and party members often make and are at risk of. Right from the direct preparation of ideology, politics, organization and morality for the birth of the Party, in His work The Revolutionary Path (1927), Ho Chi Minh put first the lessons on the characteristics of a revolutionary and determined the criteria that the revolutionist should have, which includes actively preventing and combating against negative manifestations, having no self (self-interest, self-benefit, self-seeking personal revenge, etc.), not being cowardly, not being eager for fame, not being too proud, and having little interest in material(1).

After the successful August Revolution 1945, the revolutionary government was established. Ho Chi Minh was very concerned with the degradation of some cadres and party members after having been assigned by the Party and the Government to hold positions with power. Just two weeks after reading the Declaration of Independence that gave birth to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in his Letter to Comrades (September 17, 1945), Ho Chi Minh reminded cadres and party members to avoid misdeeds and wrongdoings. He stated: “Many of our cadres are committed and devoted, very loyal to their tasks, to the Government and to the nation. But there are also those who are corrupt, bureaucratic, too authoritarian, or misuse power for personal benefits. Some even use the law for personal revenge, causing people’s resent to the Government and associations”(2).

In the Letter to the People’s Committees of the Regions, Provinces, Districts and Villages (October 17, 1945), along with affirming the motto of the new regime of serving the people, closely associating with the people and making people enjoy true happiness and freedom, Ho Chi Minh continued to criticize very serious mistakes that some cadres made. There were six mistakes and shortcomings: Firstly, law-breaking, taking personal revenge; secondly, misusing power, abusing power, disdaining public opinions, and not thinking of people; thirdly, corrupting, dissipating luxuries, and taking public wealth for private use; fourthly, taking people to one’s side or influencing people; fifthly, dividing people, not knowing how to unite the public, making concessions, and living in harmony; and sixthly, being arrogant, disdaining people, being boastful, and acting superior over others(3).

The spirit of strict, straightforward criticism continued to be mentioned by Ho Chi Minh in the Letter to Comrades of the North (March 1, 1947) and Letter to the Comrades in the Central Region (1947), when he pointed out the shortcomings: being a localism follower, being factionist, being military bureaucratic and narrow minded and having desires for formality, working inflexibly, having no discipline or no serious discipline, and being selfish and corrupted.

In Modifying Our Work Style (October 1947), Ho Chi Minh frankly pointed out three very dangerous shortcomings: being subjective, being narrow-minded and being boastful. By insightful analysis from the practice, he pointed out that these three shortcomings are the result of many defects, or lead to other defects. Regarding political ideology, morality, and the lifestyle of cadres and Party members, he clearly analyzed mistakes and shortcomings such as poor reasoning or contempt of reasoning, empty reasoning, localism, indigenous-ism, individualism, tendency to take advantage of fame, greed, suppressing talented people, corruption, etc.

In particular, Ho Chi Minh pointed out individualism as a disease: “Individualism is like a very toxic bacterium because it produces very dangerous diseases”(4). The typical complications of individualism are greed, laziness, arrogance, desire for fame, lack of discipline, narrow-mindedness, localism, and megalomania.

He also analyzed and reminded people to prevent things just in names but not in reality, factionalism or short-sightedness. They should avoid jealousy, short-sightedness, individualism, laziness, flattery, bureaucracy, detachment from people, being formal, being hot tempered, continuing to recite previous revolutionary achievements, and talking without action.

In the work Revolutionary Morality (December 1958), together with affirming the need to cultivate revolutionary morality, the content of revolutionary moral standards, and the principle of training revolutionary morality, Ho Chi Minh stated the requirement of fighting against individualism. He pointed out that individualism is the opposite of revolutionary morality and is the worst and most dangerous vestige of the old society, a very cunning thing; it soothes people to go downhill. Everyone knows that going downhill is easier than going uphill. That is why it is even more dangerous.

Ho Chi Minh pointed out the manifestations of individualism, first and foremost: “they require enjoyment and rest; they want to choose the work of their own liking and do not want to do the work assigned to them by the Party. They want a high position, but they are afraid of heavy responsibilities. Gradually their fighting spirit and activeness are deteriorated, their heroic spirit and good quality of the revolution are also weakened; they forget that the revolutionary standard number one is their determination to fight for the Party and the revolution for life”(5).

It is also the ideology and actions, words and deeds of Party members which do not go with each other, the “free will to act” going against the organization and the Party’s discipline.

There is also a phenomenon in which Party members “boast about their achievements” with the Party. With some accomplishments, they want the Party to “thank” them. They demand preferential treatment, honor and position, and enjoyment. If their requirements are not met, they complain to the Party, saying that they “have no prospects” and that they are “sacrificed”. Then gradually they depart from the Party, even undermining the Party’s policies and discipline(6). There are also people who “become arrogant”. They criticize others but do not want to be criticized, nor do they self-criticize or self-criticize honestly and seriously. They fear that self-criticism will make them lose face and reputation. They do not listen to the opinions of the masses. They despise non-Party cadres(7).

Another manifestation of individualism pointed out by Ho Chi Minh is the loss of close ties with the masses; “thinking of themselves as being omnipotent, they stay away from the masses. They do not want to learn from the masses but just want to be the public’s teacher. They are afraid to work in the organization, working on propaganda and education of the masses. They are bureaucratic and like to give orders”(8).

It is also a phenomenon in which “some comrades learn by heart a number of books on Marxism - Leninism. They consider themselves to be more Marxist - Leninist than anyone. But when it comes to real life, they are either mechanical or puzzled. Their words and deeds do not agree. They study Marxist - Lenin books, but do not learn the Marxist - Lenin spirit. Learning is to adorn himself but not to apply it to revolutionary work”(9).

Ho Chi Minh clearly stated: “Individualism produces hundreds of dangerous diseases: bureaucracy, bossiness, factionalism, subjectivity, embezzlement, waste... It binds and blinds its victims. These people, whatever comes from the greed of fame and status for their individuality, are not thinking of the interests of the class and the people. Individualism is a vicious enemy of socialism. Revolutionists must destroy it”(10).

In the article “Enhancing revolutionary morality, sweeping away individualism, on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the founding of the Party” (February 2, 1969), within less than 700 words but with deep and sharp contents, Ho Chi Minh pointed out the expressions of some cadres and party members whose morality needed improving. It is a heavy individualism, thinking about one’s own interests first. They do not think about others’ benefits but just want others to think about theirs. The mistakes, defects and bad habits will harmfully reduce the prestige and lose the credibility, love, and admiration of the masses of cadres and party members. These mistakes and shortcomings are the enemies that lurk in every human being – internal aggressors which sabotage one’s revolutionary career. If not corrected in time, these will gradually lead to discontent and resentment, leaving the Party, or even undermining the Party’s policies and disciplines(11) and betraying the Party or betraying the revolution. Those are the expressions of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation”.

2. Ho Chi Minh’s viewpoints on measures to prevent the expressions of degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle among cadres and party members

During the course of revolutionary leadership, Ho Chi Minh started from the reality of the country to grasp and find problems and find ways, then act to improve reality and promote the cause of revolution. Therefore, when analyzing and pointing out the manifestations of degradation in political ideology, morality, and lifestyle among cadres and party members, he did not stop at describing and explaining the phenomenon, but more importantly, devised measures and ways to overcome those mistakes and shortcomings. These measures and ways were mentioned by Ho Chi Minh in many cases and specific circumstances, but in short are clearly shown in two aspects: the role of Party organizations and the role of each cadre and party member.

In terms of Party organization, Ho Chi Minh firstly requested to strive to strengthen education in the whole Party about the ideological communism ideals, the Party’s guidelines and policies, and the Party’s duties and morality. This ideal education must stem from specific subjects, especially the level of awareness, responsibility, age, industry, region and specific contents and appropriate measures. In education, revolutionary ideals must be closely connected with theory and practice. In particular, Ho Chi Minh always attached great importance to educational measures that set an example, in the spirit of: “A lively example is worth more than a hundred educational speeches”(12).

At the same time, Ho Chi Minh requested Party organizations at all levels to organize the strict implementation of self-criticism and criticism within the Party. People consider self-criticism and criticism to be the best medicine, the best way to correct mistakes and weaknesses, the miraculous method, and the sharpest weapon of the revolution in the fight with bad habits and with “the enemy in himself”. Self-criticism and criticism were identified by Ho Chi Minh as a principle of organizing Party activities and an essential criterion of a true revolutionary party. He also pointed out that performing self-criticism and criticism must be done regularly every day, like washing people’s faces. It must be done in an honest, serious and democratic way, must be rational and based on comrades’ mutual love. The public must welcome and encourage honest criticism from cadres and party members. The results of self-criticism and criticism must be better unity and greater efficiency.

In order to promote the role of the Party organization in the prevention of bad habits and manifestations of decline in political ideology, morality and lifestyle, Ho Chi Minh also required the subsistence regime of the Party cell to be serious. Party disciplines must be strict, and the inspection of the Party must be tight. He emphasized the discipline of the Party as an iron discipline and frankly stated: “Without iron disciplines there would be no Party. Having joined the Party, one must follow the ideology of the Party. The Party has instructed the resolution to do it. If you don’t do it, you could be kicked out of the Party”(13).

Ho Chi Minh also repeatedly reminded people to attach great importance to the inspection, considering this to be one of the contents of the Party’s leadership. He thought that leadership without checking is not leadership. Only after inspecting can the quality of directions, guidelines and policies be supplemented and amended in time to be suitable to reality. Only with inspection can the quality of cadres be urged, commented and necessary, replacing new officials to meet requirements and tasks.

In terms of individuals, each cadre and each party member, in order to prevent mistakes and shortcomings, expressions of the degradation of political ideology, morality and lifestyle, Ho Chi Minh firstly asked each cadre and party member to put the interests of the revolution, the Party and the people first and foremost, to be determined to wipe out individualism, improve revolutionary morality, foster collective ideology, solidarity, organization and discipline. He pointed out that the best way for each person to train and grow himself is to actively participate in practical activities - the largest training school of each cadre and party member is practice. Each person must be self-aware and educate themselves in daily life in the spirit of “the more polished, the brighter pearls, the more forged, the better gold”.

At the same time, Ho Chi Minh also reminded every cadre and party member who wanted to prevent diseases and signs of degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle, to go deep and close to reality, stay close to the masses, and truly respect and uphold the ownership of the people. Because in life, nothing is more precious than the people, nothing is as strong as the people’s solidarity force; it is necessary to be firmly based on the people. When one has the people, he shall have everything; one must respect the people, love the people, and strive for the benefits of the people to be loved and trusted by the people.

Ho Chi Minh also pointed out that in order to correct and overcome limitations and mistakes, each cadre and party member must constantly strive to study, train and improve the level of knowledge to perform all tasks well. The revolution is constantly evolving, so the revolutionary task also requires each cadre and party member to constantly improve their qualifications in all aspects. Not only does professional learning need to happen, but political theory also needs to be done. The world view and right view of life need to be fostered to maintain a firm stance, as do the ideals of revolution, even in times when the revolution develops smoothly, or when it is in trouble.

The revolutionary career is of the entire nation, in which cadres and party members must be set as exemplary people, pioneering and leading the revolutionary movement. But revolutionary practices also show that there are still “the fly in the ointment”. There are still people who fall into a degradation of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle. With awareness and right measures, one will make progress and deserve the title of party member; conversely, without awareness and no measures taken, he will lose the title of party member and even be prosecuted before the law. Ho Chi Minh’s guidelines are a guide to help us understand more clearly the degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle in the present conditions and develop effective measures and ways to limit and overcome those manifestations. It is also a practical way to study and implement the Politburo’s Directive 05-CT/TW on promoting learning and following Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, morality, style and central resolutions on building and regulating the Party and preventing and reversing the decline of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, and the expression of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” internally.


End notes:

(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.280.

(2), (3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.4, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.20, 65- 66.

(4) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.5, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.295.

(5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.11, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.605, 607, 608, 609, 611, 611, 607.

(12) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.1, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.284.

(13) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, Vol.6, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.367.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Ly Viet Quang

Institute of President Ho Chi Minh and Party Leaders,

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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