January 3, 2013

21st Century Socialism in Vietnam

Socialism and the Path to Socialism – Vietnam’s Perspective

By Nguyen Phú Trong

Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, paid an official friendship visit to Cuba and gave a presentation at the Nico Lopez Party School of the Cuban Communist Party. 
Following are excerpts from Party leader Trong’s presentation.

Socialism and the path to socialism is a fundamental and practical theoretical topic with broad and complicated content, demanding thorough and in-depth study. I hereby mention just a few aspects from Vietnam’s perspective for your reference and our discussions. And several questions are focused: What is socialism? Why did Vietnam choose the socialist path? How to build socialism in Vietnam step by step? How significant has Vietnam’s renewal and socialism building process been over the past 25 years? And what lessons have been learnt?

As you know, socialism can be understood in three different aspects: socialism as a doctrine, socialism as a movement, and socialism as a regime. Each aspect has different manifestations, depending on the world outlook and development level in a specific historical period. The socialism I want to discuss here is a scientific socialism based on Marxist-Leninist doctrine in the current era.

Previously, when the Soviet Union and its constellation of socialist countries existed, striving for socialism in Vietnam seemed logical and implicitly validated. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, socialist regimes fell in many countries and the worldwide socialist revolution began to ebb. Now, the cause of socialism has been revived, sparking widespread interest and heated debate.

It is true that capitalism has never been more widely accepted than it is now, and it has achieved great successes, especially in liberating and developing productive capacity and advancing science and technology. Many developed capitalist countries have established social welfare systems which are more progressive than ever before, thanks to strong economies and long struggles by their working class. However, capitalism cannot overcome its inherent fundamental contradictions.  We are witnessing a financial crisis and economic decline which originated in the US in 2008, rapidly spread to other capitalist centers, and has impacted every country around the globe.

In addition to this economic crisis with its related food and energy crisis, a depletion of natural resources and deterioration of the environment are posing great challenges to the existence and development of humankind. These are the consequences of a socio-economic development process which champions profits, considers wealth and material consumption the measures of civilization, and makes individualism the main pillar of society. They are the essential characteristics of capitalism’s mode of production and consumption.  The ongoing crisis once again proves that capitalism is anti-advancement, anti-humanity, and unsustainable economically, socially, and ecologically. As Karl Marx said, capitalism damages the things that constitute its wealth, namely, labor and natural resources. According to scientists, the current crisis cannot be completely resolved in the framework of a capitalist regime.

Recent social protest movements flaring up in many developed capitalist countries have exposed the truth about the nature of capitalist political entities. In fact, democratic regimes which follow the “free democracy” formula advocated and imposed by the West never ensure that power truly belongs to the people and for the people—the natural factor of democracy. Such a power system still belongs mostly to the wealthy minority and serves the interests of its major capitalist groups. A very small proportion, as small as 1% of the population, holds the majority of the wealth and means of production, controls most of the financial institutions and mass media, and dominates the whole society.

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