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Applying lessons on the Paris Commune’s seizure and defence of power to today’s Fatherland protection cause

The Paris Commune 1871 was the first revolution of the working class and the labouring people to overthrow the bourgeois government. Though the revolution existed for 72 days only (March 18th, 1871 - May 28th, 1871), it provided a number of profound lessons for the working class, the workers’ movement, and the international communist movement.

Although 150 years have passed, lessons drawn from the Paris Commune’s seizure and defence of power should be further studied and applied creatively, appropriately to today’s building and protection of our socialist Fatherland. The Paris Commune shows us two fundamental revolutionary issues of special importance in terms of both theory and practice, namely the seizure of power for the working class and the labouring people, and the protection and consolidation of power to build a new society, in other words the establishment and practice of proletarian dictatorship. These two basic issues are closely related to each other in the revolutionary process. Seizing power is the first one; however, it is more difficult and complicated for the working class to defend the power and build a new society.

With reference to the seizure of power, when the bourgeois government proved powerless, betrayed the country and surrendered to foreign invaders, the working class and the labouring people in Paris quickly grasped the opportunity to gain power and establish a new government. According to Karl Marx, the Paris Commune is a new-style government of the working class and a political form of social liberation prompted by the working class and the labouring people. In the process of seizing power, the working class and the labouring people in Paris armed themselves and organised self-defence against the Prussian army, expressed their indignation at the Chie Government's surrender and betrayal, rose up to expel the bourgeoisie, and established a new government - the Paris Commune, including representatives of workers, the petty bourgeoisie and progressive intellectuals. All of the things were done with the revolutionary will and heroic spirit of a new social force determined to take on the historical responsibility before the class and the nation, marking a new development in the international workers’ movement. Regarding the defence of power, right after seizing power, the working class and the labouring people in Paris made efforts to protect their power, which was reflected in two main aspects. First, they fought against the resistance of the bourgeoisie and reactionary forces to defend the government. The Commune organised a security force, issued a decree to dismiss the former regime’s army and standing police, and formed national guard units to fight the internal and external enemies and protect the capital city and the government. Second, they organised and managed a new society. To that end, the Commune separated Christian activities from the government and education, set up a new educational system, handed over factories to the working class, and implemented a number of social welfare policies to improve the poor’s life. Soldiers of the Commune courageously fought for maintaining the young revolutionary government. However, for many different reasons, on May 28th, 1871, the Commune completely failed.

Obstacles set up by the revolutionary force on the street on March 18th, 1871 (file photo)

Despite its collapse, Karl Marx said that “Paris’ workers, with their Commune would forever be admired and considered as a glorious founder of a new society by generations of people. The image of the founding members of the Commune will be forever in the heart of the working class.” Needless to say, the Commune provides us lessons on practising proletarian dictatorship, on seizing and protecting power, on performing the tasks of the nation and the class simultaneously, on the need for leadership by a true revolutionary party, on using revolutionary violence against the enemy, on national and international unity, and on establishing a worker-peasant alliance. Those lessons remain valuable to us nowadays, regardless of ups and downs in the past 150 years. Those lessons are manifested in two basic revolutionary issues. The first is seizing and protecting power. The second represents the key to the success of the Commune, while clearly showing the shortage and the poor realisation of the contents of the lessons as reasons for the Commune's failure. It objectively, comprehensively reflects the "political immaturity" of the working class at that time.

The lessons on the Commune’s seizure and defence of power show that it is difficult to gain power, but maintaining the power is even more difficult. To protect power, it is vital to constantly consolidate the overall strength, enhance the internal strength and purity, remain revolutionary vigilance, and flexibly, effectively respond to changes. Maintaining power is not purely the fight against internal and external enemies. It should include the building, consolidation and use of that government to create a new society in the revolutionary process. While it is ‘more difficult’ to protect power, using that revolutionary government to build and defend a new social regime is ‘even much more difficult.’ To apply those lessons to today’s national defence and construction cause, we should well implement several measures and tasks as follows.

Firstly, attention should be paid to further educating cadres, party members and all people to master the lessons on the Commune’s seizure and defence of power in order to increase the synergy, firmly safeguard the national independence, sovereignty, unification, and territorial integrity, protect the country’s interests and culture, and defend our Party and social regime in any circumstance. It is essential to realise the Commune's lessons and Lenin’s teachings: "A revolution is valuable only when it knows how to defend itself.” Therefore, our Party, State and Military should synchronously and comprehensively adopt solutions to build and firmly protect the Fatherland. In particular, we should effectively implement the National Security Strategy, the Strategy for the Fatherland Protection in the new situation, the National Defence Strategy, the Military Strategy, and the Strategy for the Fatherland Protection in Cyberspace.

Secondly, enhance the country's overall strength, “closely combine and synchronously implement tasks, with socio-economic development as the central, the Party building as the key, the development of culture as the society’s spiritual foundation, and national defence and security as an important and routine mission”. More importantly, "economic development must be sustainable, national defence must be strong, national strength must be great, a firm posture of people’s hearts and minds must be built, socio-political stability must be maintained, and the whole nation must be a united block." Emphasis should be placed on building a pure and politically, ideologically, morally, organisationally strong Party, making our State increasingly strong, remaining steadfast in the socialist goal, ideal and principles in the development process, cementing the great national unity block, boosting economic development, improving the people's life, building a firm "posture of people’s hearts and minds," and raising the country’s national defence and security power and status.

Thirdly, consideration should be given to building a revolutionary, regular, elite, gradually modernised Vietnam People's Army. Priority should be given to modernising several services, corps, and forces and building a politically strong Military as the basis for raising its overall quality and combat strength so that it will be capable of protecting the Party, the State, the regime, the Socialist Fatherland and a peaceful environment. “The Military Party Organisation should be pure and politically, morally, ideologically, organisationally strong, while the vanguard and exemplary role performed by party committee heads and commanders should be heightened. Greater importance should be attached to well conducting the work of political and ideological education, fostering revolutionary morality and comradeship amongst cadres and soldiers, and ensuring that the Military will always be an absolutely loyal, reliable political and fighting force of the Party, State and the people and it will always undertake and successfully accomplish its task in any situation.”

Fourthly, promote the overall strength of the regime and combine the internal strength of the nation with the strength of the times and the external strength, align national protection with national construction, associate economic development with defence-security consolidation and diplomacy, and adopting appropriate, effective methods of struggle. It is necessary to clearly grasp the situation, accurately anticipate the world’s development trends, and well manage relationships with our partners and objects of struggle. It is important to deal with the sign of ambiguity, a lack of vigilance or the inflexible handling of specific situations. In our relations with major powers, due attention should be paid to ‘preventing compromises damaging’ to our national construction and protection cause. "The strategy to prevent and eliminate the risks of war and conflict from afar" should be effectively implemented. Great value should be attached to maintaining vigilance and actively, proactively preparing strong armed forces and specific, scientific combat projects in order to readily, firmly defend the country’s independence, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity, and security in any situation.

Fifthly, currently, to protect power and the regime, it is vital to maintain and strengthen the Party's leadership and the State's management towards the society and the country’s national renewal, the People’s Army, the People’s Public Security and the Fatherland protection cause in any circumstance, especially in the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Emphasis should be placed on consistently upholding and creatively applying Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's ideology, renewing the Party's leadership over the State and the society, resolutely, persistently and effectively executing the 12th Party Central Committee’s Resolution No.4 on the Party building and rectification, especially the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress in association with the Directive 05-CT/TW by the 12th Politburo on promoting the studying and following of Ho Chi Minh's ideology, morality and lifestyle. Those are basic measures to defend power, maintain the Party’s leadership and protect the Fatherland that we should more effectively implement in the foreseeable future.

Associate Prof. NGUYEN MANH HUONG, PhD, NGUYEN MINH CUONG, PhD*
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* The Political Officer College

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Applying lessons on the Paris Commune’s seizure and defence of power to today’s Fatherland protection cause
The Paris Commune 1871 was the first revolution of the working class and the labouring people to overthrow the bourgeois government. Though the revolution existed for 72 days only (March 18th, 1871 - May 28th, 1871), it provided a number of profound lessons for the working class, the workers’ movement, and the international communist movement