News | Party / Movement History - South Asia Questions on Ho Chi Minh's Thoughts on International Solidarity

An interview with Dr. Tran Tuan Phong, Deputy Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

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Ho Chi Minh bust in a meeting room of the national assembly
Ho Chi Minh bust in a meeting room of the national assembly Foto: Philip Degenhardt

The 2nd of September marks a national holiday in Vietnam in various ways. On 2 September 1945 Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Republic of Vietnam and thus independence. 24 years later in 1969 he died on the same day in Hanoi. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his death. In addition to its great importance for Vietnam, he also became a key figure in divided Germany during the protests of 1968 against the proxy war in Vietnam and the demand for international solidarity.

What can we learn from Ho Chi Minh’s thoughts on international Solidarity in a fast changing and globalized world where crucial problems cannot be solved by single states anymore and where international cooperation seems more important than ever?

We spoke about this with Dr. Tran Tuan Phong, Deputy Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

Christian Süper: Dr. Phong, the 2nd September 2019 is National Day in Vietnam. It is not just the 74th anniversary of the declaration of independence but also the 50th day of death of Ho Chi Minh. After 50 years, could you please tell us a bit more about the role of Ho Chi Minh in the Vietnamese society today?

Dr. Phong: First of all, thank you very much for your interest in our President Ho Chi Minh.

In answering your question I would like to say that President Ho Chi Minh is very special for the Vietnamese society. For the Vietnamese, President Ho Chi Minh  is not only the founder of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the First President of  Vietnam but also a very close (respectable) relative ( in a family): People call him Bác Ho (Uncle Ho) or simply Bác (Uncle).

Today, together with Marxism-Leninism, Ho Chi Minh thought is the foundation for the  thought  and a guideline for action of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Our Party confirms that  “Ho Chi Minh Thought was a system of profound viewpoints on fundamental issues of the Vietnamese revolution, and a result of the creative application and development of Marxism-Leninism to Vietnam’s specific conditions. These views inherited and developed the nation’s fine traditions and acquired the quintessence of human culture”. Ho Chi Minh considered that national liberation is the premise for national development, and national independence must be aligned with socialism. By learning and following Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Vietnamese revolution obtained major successes in its past struggle for national salvation and in the current national renovation, construction and defence process.

For outstanding contributions to the nation and to mankind advances, President Ho Chi Minh has been recognized by  the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural United Nations (UNESCO) in 1987 as  “a Vietnamese hero of national liberation and a great man of culture”

With a deep school of thought, great contributions to the revolution, and model of life, in 1987, Ho Chi Minh was honoured by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the "Vietnam’s Hero of Liberation and Outstanding Cultural Celebrity"

And is there a change in the appreciation of Ho Chi Minh and his role in the recent years?

The collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist countries in the 1990s forced our Party to rethink about the model of development of Vietnam. We realized that the  collapse was the failure of a particular model of socialism, the Soviet socialist model, not the collapse of socialism as the socio-economic formation that human beings are orienting to. Thus, the disintegration of real socialism in the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries requires the rest of the socialist countries including Vietnam to actively renovate and reform. When the Soviet model of socialism had no longer worked in Vietnam and our country faced the threats of serious crisis, we realized that it was necessary for Vietnam  to find our own way to socialism in accordance with new historical conditions. So the time (in1986),  when Vietnam started its Renovation process, is also the time our Party learns more about the depth of Ho Chi Minh thought. In Ho Chi Minh thought we find may valuable idea about socialism suitable for the development context of Vietnam because Ho Chi Minh was the first to apply and creatively develop Marxism-Leninism in the specific conditions of Vietnam, inherit and develop the traditional values of the nation, absorb humankind cultural essence, create a system of comprehensive and profound viewpoints on fundamental issues of the Vietnamese revolution.

As you know, Ho Chi Minh's choice of socialism is linked to his revolutionary purpose. The pursuit of happiness for the people, for the society and for the nation is the highest goal of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary life. Beginning with his patriotic love, in the process of finding a way to save the country, regain independence for the people and liberate the people from the yoke of colonialism and feudalism, Ho Chi Minh realized that communism was the right and proper path to achieve his goal: " At first, patriotism, not yet communism, led me to have confidence in Lenin, in the Third International. Step by step, along the struggle, by studying Marxism-Leninism parallel with participation in practical activities, I gradually came upon the fact that only socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery". Ho Chi Minh has his own way to talk about socialism. For him "Socialism is to make all people comfortable  and happy" , "the goal of socialism is to constantly improve living standards of the people".

Briefly and plainly speaking, socialism first of all is to liberate the working people from poverty, bring employment, welfare and happiness to the people

The Communist Party of Vietnam has inherited and developed creatively the views of Ho Chi Minh on socialism. The overarching goal of the cause of socialist construction in our country is "rich people, strong country, democratic, just and civilized society." People are not only the direct masters who express the creativity and autonomy in the implementation of this goal, but also the masters of the power. They are also the beneficiaries of the achievements of the development. Solidarity, creativity and proactiveness of the people will create synergy to achieve the country's development goals.

Ho Chi Minh thought, his morality and style penetrate all spheres of social life of the people of Vietnam, becomes national cultural values. And today our Party calls for efforts to make Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality, and style a firm foundation for social life and Vietnamese culture. Al the Vietnamese should be more aware of this great value.

Ho Chi Minh is closely connected to the German 1968 movement and the claim for international solidarity. What were his thoughts on this particular topic?

The German 1968 movement as well the protests against American aggression in Vietnam in the US and many other countries around the world in 1960s and 1970s contributed significantly to the victory of the Vietnamese people in the war against American imperialism. Ho Chi Minh realized the very important role of international solidarity for the Vietnamese in our struggle for national unification.

In November 1964, at an international Congress for solidarity with the people in Southern Vietnam in their struggle against American aggressors in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh said "I firmly believe that with the strong support of the people in socialist countries, people in the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as  progressive people in the US and other countries, our compatriots in the South will fight stronger and stronger again American imperialists and their henchmen. Southern Vietnam will definitely be liberated. The sacred struggle for realizing peace and national unification of our Vietnamese people will certainly be completely victorious."

In many ways, Vietnam's victory over American imperialism is not just for the revolutionary forces of Vietnam but for the progressive forces of the world. As Ho Chi Minh said, "All achievements of our Party and people are inseparable from the fraternal support of the Soviet Union, People’s China and the other socialist countries, the international communist and workers’ movement and the national-liberation movement and the peace movement in the world. If we have been able to surmount all difficulties and lead our working class and people to the present glorious victories this is because the Party has coordinated the revolutionary movement in our country with the revolutionary movement of the world working class and the oppressed peoples." And also, "The strength, greatness and perseverance of the Vietnamese originate primarily from their solidarity and support of world peoples. ... International solidarity is tremendously meaningful to us. It’s true that we must rely on ourselves first. Fortunately, we have the physical and mental support of other countries. So now, our strength comes from both inside and outside."

The bictory of the Vietnamese is also the victory of international Solidarity, the very solidarity for peace and progress of humanity. As former Russian military specialist Lieutenant General Victor Ivanovich Filippov said, "Vietnam’s struggle for their freedom and independence from US imperialism was just and received a lot of support from around the world, even many people in the US. Peace lovers around the world showed their support for the liberation soldiers fighting the US and held demonstrations to protest against the US’s intervention and bombing campaign in the north of the country. Economic support from Russia, China as well as others also contributed to the victory. Vietnam becomes a symbol for other countries struggling for independence and good example for other countries to follow in wars of national unity."

And what do these thoughts mean today? For the Vietnamese society but also for people in other countries like Germany?

Ho Chi Minh’s thought on solidarity is of great value for our Party and our People. As President Ho Chi Minh said: "Solidarity, solidarity, great solidarity; success, success, great success." His thought on solidarity serves as the basis to connect all our fellow countrymen (compatriots) together in the fight to gain independence for the nation, bring freedom to all Vietnamese, and open opportunities for all people to pursue a happy life. While addressing the content of solidarity, Ho Chi Minh states clearly that "the great solidarity means first of all the solidarity of the majority of the people, the majority of the people are the workers, peasants and other labouring classes. That is the root of the great solidarity. It is similar to the foundation of a house, the root of a tree. However, even when there is a firm foundation and good root the solidarity, it is necessary to unite other classes and strata of the people."

The core of the great national solidarity is the alliance between workers and peasants, which are the main forces to consolidate and gather all social classes and strata, all ethnic groups, all religions and different political parties for the goal of national liberation from the regime of foreign invaders. This is a broad solidarity beyond all divisions and differences that creates a combined strength to fight together to gain national independence and the right to determine the fate and happiness of every individual as well as entire nation.

Thus, great solidarity always acts as the main driving force in the cause of struggle for national liberation and national unification as well as in the current cause of building a Vietnam with “wealthy people, strong country, democratic, just and civilized society”.

And in our course of international integration with the world today, the Communist Party of Vietnam successfully implements Ho Chi Minh's thought on international solidary. For Ho Chi Minh there exists a very close relation between the Vietnamese Revolution and the revolutionary movement in the world: "the Vietnamese Revolution is an integral part of the international revolution", and "in principle, common progress depends on the development of internationalism; and civilization is only beneficial when international relations are expanded and strengthened”.  As you can see, thanks to that successful and creative implementation of the Ho Chi Minh thought, the Communist Party of Vietnam and all the people of Vietnam have always received enthusiastic, valuable solidarity, support from Communists and progressive people around the world.  And we can say that great victories of Vietnam in our revolution have always associated with the solidarity and support of the working class and the international Communist forces.

In the current world situation, the Communist Party of Vietnam emphasizes the important of a "combination between the national strength with era power, internal strength with international strength. In any circumstances, it is necessary to firmly maintain the will of independence and self-reliance, and highly uphold the spirit of international cooperation, promote the internal resources and at the same time make use of external resources, combining traditional factors with modern factors".

We can see that international solidarity plays a very important role not only for the Vietnamese but also for other people in the world today. Here we can agree with Ms.Liliane Danso-Dahmen, the former director of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s South East Asia office, when she said that the people in the world needed to fight and stand together for peace and to support struggles for independence and social justice.

International solidarity for peace is the foundation to ultimately build an equal and civilised world for all