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Building Vietnam’s national and cultural value systems in international integration

(PTOJ) - In the renewal effort of Vietnam for the goal of “prosperous people, strong country, democratic, equitable and civilized society”, building a national value system and a cultural value system is an objective need. For each step of national development, a value system is needed to guide, evaluate and adjust social behaviors. On the basis of theory and practice as well as the Party’s awareness of building the national value system and cultural value system, the paper researches on the building of the national and cultural value systems of Vietnam in the new period.

 

Source: Vietnam New Agency (VNA)

1. Theoretical and practical basis of building Vietnam’s national and cultural value systems

Sociologically, J.H.Fichter, an American sociologist has defined “anything that is useful, desirable and respectable to a person or a group of people has a value”(1). According to Tran Ngoc Them, “values are people’s assessments of natural and social phenomena and thinking in the dimension that what is necessary, good, beautiful, or what is considered to be true, good and beautiful and helps to affirm and enhance human nature. Once those valuable perceptions have been formed, they affect people’s thinking, beliefs, behaviors, and feelings”(2). 

Thus, value is all that gives meaning to individuals and society, and is recognized by society, a spiritual fulcrum desired by people who work towards and act upon it.

The universal values that human beings aim at are the true, the good and the beautiful. The true is the right and the scientific. The good is the healthy moral relationship aimed at upholding human conscience, honor, responsibilities and obligations. The beautiful is the grace, harmony and perfection of human material and spiritual creation. These values are considered to be the fundamental universal pillar of world culture and also the guiding values for all different cultures. The concept of value only includes what is positively progressive, reflecting the aspirations towards humanity and society. What is negative is classified as counter-value.

The value system consists of many values linked hierarchically, taking on certain social functions.

The three basic functions of the value system are orientation, assessment, and adjustment of social relations. Orientation is the function of establishing basic values that orientates society’s thinking and actions, guides society’s belief in the realization of proclaimed positive values, and encourages society to comply with and follow such values. Assessment function is expressed through judgment, evaluation of society to each individual or community on the implementation of declared values of the right or the wrong and different levels of performance. Adjustment is the function regulating the behavior of individuals and society through social institutions to direct social activities into the implementation of socially recognized values, handling behaviors deviated from these value orientations. The adjustment function is possible through “self-awareness”, criticism and self-criticism or can be enforced by law.

Currently, the continents as well as countries are researching and proposing regional values, national values as a common symbol for their region and country. The continental value system or the national value system that they build is based on the common aspirations and desires of each region and each country, reflecting the distinctive characteristics and cultural identities. For example, the Western values system has identified 7 core values: 1) Justice; 2) Rights; 3) Equality; 4) Liberty / freedom; 5) Toleration; 6) Autonomy; 7) Democracy(3). 

In 2012, the European Commission brought about 5 values highly valued by the Europeans: 1) Peace; 2) Democracy; 3) Human Rights; 4) Law observance; 5) Solidarity(4). 

Meanwhile, outstanding Asian values are: 1) Industriousness, diligence; 2) Eager to learn; 3) Love for family and bloodline; 4) Community and social responsibility. 

The traditional Japanese value system includes 8 values: 1) Solidarity; 2) Discipline; 3) Patience; 4) Loyalty; 5) Responsibility; 6) Politeness; 7) Autonomy; 8) Avoidance of disturbing others. In the current international integration context, Japan has identified 5 core values: 1) Symbiosis, coexistence; 2) Self-regulation; 3) Independent thinking; 4) Innovation; 5) Respect for differences(5).

Malaysia defines 5 national principles: 1) Belief in God; 2) Loyalty to the King and Country; 3) Supremacy of the Constitution; 4) Rule of Law; 5) Courtesy and Morality(6).

Singapore’s 5 Shared Values, adopted by the National Assembly in 1991, include 1) Nation before community and society above self, 2) Family as the basic unit of society, 3) Community support and respect for the individual, 4) Consensus, not conflict, and 5) Racial and religious harmony. These values are gradually concretized through action standards so that the community can practice in social life, creating a distinct identity of each country in the international integration.

2. The Party’s awareness of building the cultural and human value system 

It has been 35 years since the national reform started. This is the period when the country is undergoing a comprehensive renewal, from theoretical awareness to practical activities; from economic, political, social reform to cultural innovation, education, security, defence, foreign affairs, etc. It can be said that this is a huge, comprehensive and profound transition period for Vietnam in all fields of society and economy. Under the Party leadership, the Vietnamese economy has shifted from highly centralized planning to a socialist-oriented market economy. From a pre-industrial society focusing on agricultural production and handicraft, we step by step promote industrialization, modernization and international integration based on modern scientific and technological advances and high-quality human resources. The object of our culture is not only peasants and the intellectuals allied with the peasants as in the traditional society, but also the working class, intellectuals, businessmen, civil servants, military, police, youths, students and so on. The economic basis of Vietnamese culture is not just restricted to the old-fashioned farming, but includes modern agriculture, modern industry, and advanced services. The cultural environment is not only limited to the rural cultural environment, but also consists of strong urbanization and urban development, new rural model, civilized, creative urban cities, etc..

The renewal in Vietnam takes place amidst many positive and negative impacts of globalization and the scientific and technological revolution. In the transition from tradition to modernity, social life in general is experiencing many conflicts between traditional and contemporary values, between the old and the new, between the positive and the negative. Even in many places, at many times, the counter-values emerged, disrupted and hindered development, degrading morality and lifestyle of cadres, Party members and people. This is one of the reasons that threaten our national stability and development and social regime. In this process, it is an inevitable requirement to build a national value system and cultural value system, and Vietnamese people’s standards to ensure the orientation, solidarity and consensus of the nation in the integration for the sustainable development.

Right from the 8th Party Congress (1996), the Party has been aware of the important role of culture, identified culture as the spiritual foundation of society, both as an objective and a driving force for socio-economic development. On that basis, the Party raised the issue of “forming a new system of social values and standards in accordance with national traditions, identity and requirements of the times”(7). The documents of the 8th Party Congress also stated: “Given the conditions of a market economy and expanded international exchanges, particular attention should be given to preserving and enhancing national cultural identity, inheriting and promoting people’s ethical traditions, fine customs and practices, and national pride. To acquire the quintessence of other nations in the world to enrich Vietnamese culture; to combat the intrusion of noxious cultures as well as tendencies towards worshipping the alien and the profane, leading to the loss of one’s national roots. To overcome money worship, defiance of morality and insensibility to human values”(8).

The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) on building and developing the advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity (1998) is of strategic importance on building and developing Vietnamese culture during the period of boosting up industrialization and modernization. The resolution identified directions, views, tasks and solutions to build and develop an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity. This is the legal and political foundation for the entire political system to participate in building cultural life, forming new cultural values and standards. The resolution emphasized the requirement of “preserving and promoting the good cultural legacies of the nation, creating new socialist cultural values, making these values permeate into the life of the whole society and each person, becoming a progressive and civilized psychology and practice. This is a difficult, complicated, and time-consuming revolutionary process. In this process, “building” and “fighting” should go hand in hand with each other, of which, the former should be considered the main task. Along with preserving and developing the nation’s precious cultural heritage, acquiring the world’s cultural quintessence, creating and nurturing new values, it is necessary to persistently fight against and eliminate all bad customs and backward habits, improve the combativeness, fight against all attempts to take advantage of culture to carry out the “peaceful evolution”(9).

The 10th Party Congress (2005) emphasized: “To build and perfect the values and personality of the Vietnamese, protect and promote the national cultural identity in the period of industrialization, modernization and international integration. To foster cultural values for the youth, students and pupils, especially the ideal of life, lifestyle, intellectual capacity, virtue and cultural qualities of the Vietnamese”. 

The 11th Party Congress requested “To build a system of common values for the Vietnamese people while stepping up industrialization, modernization and international integration”.

In the summary of 15 years of implementation of the Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th Tenure) and promulgation of the Resolution No. 33 of the 9th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (11th Tenure) on the building and development of Vietnamese culture and people to meet the requirements of sustainable development, the Party identified one of the first important goals to be achieved is “completing the values of Vietnamese culture and people, creating the environment and conditions for their development of personality, morality, intellectual competence, creative, physical, spiritual capacity, social responsibility, civic obligation, sense of law observance; highlighting patriotism, national pride, conscience and responsibility of each person to one’s self, family, community, society and the country”(10).

The 12th Party Congress (2016) summarized that it was imperative to “build a set of cultural values and norms for Vietnamese during this period of industrialization, modernization and international integration”(11).

Inheriting and developing the Party’s ideological views from previous congresses and plenums of the Party Central Committees on culture, the documents of the 13th Party Congress continued to emphasize the requirement of “emphatically doing research, identifying and developing the national value system, the cultural value system and Vietnamese human standards associated with preserving and developing the Vietnamese family value system in the new era”(12). Thus, the perception of value system building has been raised from the 8th Party Congress and has been continuously affirmed, followed, supplemented and completed step by step. By the 13th Party Congress, our Party has come up with a higher level of building the national value system, the cultural value system and Vietnamese human standards associated with preserving and developing the Vietnamese family value system in the new period. The Party is clearly aware of different levels of the value system building and the dialectical relationship of the value system of these levels. The national value system is a general system that covers and governs all fields and all different activities of social life of the nation. Cultural values cover those related to the aspiration to revive the national culture that is both advanced and imbued with national identity. Vietnamese human standards are to concretize national and cultural values as a measure and model for each Vietnamese individual to strive for and practice. The family value system is the basic unit of the cultural value system; it ensures the steady development of the national value system and the national value system and is a favorable environment for people to follow the cultural standards.

3. Emerging issues in the research, identification and development of the national and cultural value systems and human standards associated with preserving and developing the Vietnamese family value system in the new era

a. On the national value system

The Platform for national construction in the transition period towards socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) states, “Advancing to socialism is the aspiration of our people, the right choice of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Ho Chi Minh which is consistent with historical development trends”(13). At the same time, the Platform identified the socialist model that our people are going to build, namely the model of a prosperous people, strong country, democratic, equitable, and civilized society; of a highly developed economy based on a modern production force and suitably progressive production relations; of an advanced culture imbued with national identity; of prosperity, freedom, happiness with conditions for comprehensive development. That is a society where all ethnic groups in Vietnam are equal, unite, respect and help each other develop; there is a socialist law-ruled State of the people, by the people, and for the people under the leadership of the Communist Party with friendly relations and cooperation with countries around the world(14). Thus, it can be seen that the current national values are consistent with the goals set out in the Platform, which is to build a prosperous nation with the motto of a prosperous people, a strong country, a democratic, equitable, and civilized society. People’s prosperity is showcased in both material and spiritual terms, and it must be associated with a strong country; the country should be strong in economics, politics, culture, society, security, defense and foreign affairs. The ideas of a prosperous people and strong country must be based on the foundation of a democratic, equitable, and civilized society, which properly reflects the nature and superiority of the socialist regime, and approaches the high level of civilization in the region and the world.

Hence, it is possible to define the national value system of Vietnam as prosperous people, strong country, democratic, equitable, and civilized society. It is also necessary to include Happiness as it is the highest measure of people’s satisfaction with a nation. Ho Chi Minh Thought on national construction also emphasizes the value of people’s happiness. Therefore, it is possible to define the national value system as Prosperous People, Strong Country, Democratic, Equitable, and Civilized Society, and Happiness. 

b. On the cultural value system

The Platform for national construction in the transition period towards socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) identified the development of Vietnamese culture as “an advanced culture imbued with national identity, comprehensive development, unity in diversity, being deeply imbued with humane, democratic and progressive spirit. The culture should be made to be closely linked with and permeated into all domains of social life, becoming a solid spiritual foundation and important internal strength for development”(15).

Inheriting and developing the achievements of the previous term, the documents of the 12th Party Congress determines: “To enable Vietnamese culture and people to develop comprehensively, towards the true, the good, and the beautiful, imbued with national spirit, humanity, democracy and science”(16). Thus, the Vietnamese cultural value system should be National; Humane; Democratic and Scientific. Currently, the issue of building a socialist law-ruled State to manage the country according to the Constitution and law is a fundamental, long-term and urgent task. Therefore, it is necessary to add the law-governed principle to the national cultural value system. The Vietnamese cultural values system should be National; Humane; Democratic, Rule of law and Scientific.

c. On the Vietnamese human standard system

In building and developing an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity, the Party always determines the most important task is to build the Vietnamese man. The Platform for national construction in the transition period towards socialism (supplemented and developed in 2011) identified: “Humans constitute the center of development strategies. It is necessary to respect and protect human rights, linked them to the national rights and interests and the people’s mastery; to combine and bring into full play the role of society, family, school, working groups, unions and communities in the building of the Vietnamese man of patriotism, high sense of civic responsibility; of good knowledge, good health, and good labor; of civilization, gratitude and a spirit of genuine internationalism”(17).

The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th tenure) identifies 5 virtues that need to be built, including:

Having the spirit of patriotism, national resilience, striving for national independence and socialism, willingness to rise to bring the country out of poverty, backwardness, uniting with the people of the world in the struggle for peace, national independence, democracy and social progress.

Having a sense of collectivism, solidarity, striving for the common good.

Having a healthy lifestyle, a civilized lifestyle; being industrious, honest, and humane; respecting for the discipline of the country, community conventions; consciously protecting and improving the ecological environment.

Working hard with professional conscience, technique, creativity, high effectiveness for the benefit of one’s self, families, collectives and society.

Regularly studying, improving knowledge, expertise, and aesthetics fitness (18).

The Resolution of the 9th Party Central Committee (11th tenure) on the construction and development of Vietnamese culture and people to meet the requirements of sustainable national development emphasizes closer association between cultural development tasks with human building. At the same time, the target is determined: “To perfect the cultural values and Vietnamese people, creating the environment and conditions for their personality, ethical, intellectual, creative and physical development, physical and mental development, social responsibility, civic obligation, sense of law observance; To uphold their spirit of patriotism, national pride, conscience and responsibility towards themselves, their family, community, society and the country”(19). This resolution emphasizes the view of “Developing culture for the perfection of human personality and building people for cultural development. In cultural development, the focus is building the Vietnamese man with good personality, good lifestyle, with main characteristics of patriotism, compassion, honesty, solidarity, diligence and creativity(20).

Thus, these 7 fundamental characteristics are also standards of the Vietnamese man today: 1) Patriotism; 2) Kindness; 3) Affection and gratitude; 4) Honesty; 5) Solidarity; 6) Diligence; 7) Creativity. 

According to Tran Ngoc Them, in Vietnamese values from tradition to modernity and future path, the key core value-oriented system includes: Democracy and the Rule by Law; Kindness and Patriotism; Honesty and Bravery; Responsibility and Cooperation(21).

In the recent study of the Vietnamese standard values system, Nguyen Ngoc Thien and Tu Thi Loan proposed two suggestions: the first with 5 values: patriotism, responsibility, discipline, creativity, honesty; the second with 7 values: patriotism, responsibility, discipline, creativity, honesty, solidarity, and compassion(22).

Pham Xuan Nam proposed the typical Vietnamese standard value system that needs to be built in the period of industrialization, modernization and international integration, specifically: 1) Patriotism, 2) Kindness, 3) Democracy, 4) Rule of law, 5) Mettle, 6) Openness, 7) Eager for learning, 8) Creativity(23).

Thus, while building a general value system in the whole society, four key factors need to be paid attention to, namely: national interests, social interests, family interests and individual interests. The orientation of such a value systems is to develop a strong and rich country, disciplined society, happy family and successful individual (24). In this value system, traditional cultural values of House - Village - Country are still maintained, a new value which is the development of the individual is added. This is an indispensable requirement of the course of industrialization, modernization and international integration.

Studies to determine the national value system, cultural values and human standards of Vietnam in the period of accelerating industrialization, modernization and international integration, under the strong impact of globalization and the Industrial Revolution 4.0 are being carried out to come to a common consensus. This is an important job that requires the leadership and direction of the Party and investment of the State, the participation of socio-political organizations and people to create consensus, arousing aspiration to contribute to the reform cause, contributing to the successful realization of set goals.

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Endnotes:

(1) J.H. Fichter: Sociology, Saigon, 1973, p.173

(2), (21) Tran Ngoc Them: Vietnam values from traditional to modern and future path, Ho Chi Minh City Culture - Literature and Arts Publishing House, 2016, pp.38, 340.

(3), (4), (5), (6), (22), (23), (24) See Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts: Cultural value system and the Vietnamese people, Ethnic Culture Publishing House, Hanoi, 2018, pp.25-26, 25-26, 25-26, 25-26, 38, 133, 211.

(7), (8) CPV: Documents of the National Congresses in the reform era (6th, 7th, 8th, 9th Congresses), National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2005, pp.495, 494.

(9), (18) CPV: Documents of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (3rd tenure), National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1998, pp.58, 58-59.

(10), (19), (20) CPV: Documents of the 9th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (11th Tenure), Office of the Party Central Committee, 2014, p.47, 47, 48-49.

(11), (16) CPV: Documents of the 12th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016, p.126-127, 126.

(12) CPV: Documents of the 13th National Congress, vol. I, Truth National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, p.143

(13), (14), (15), (17) CPV: Documents of the 11th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, pp.70, 70, 75-76, 76.

Assoc.Prof., Dr. PHAM DUY DUC

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