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Combating distortion and denial of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics in the literary field

Distorting and denying Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics have always been at the forefront of the hostile forces’ sabotage strategy. To that end, they have employed various methods and approaches, with literature and arts serving as a malicious artifice. Hence, combating the hostile forces’ sabotage strategy in the literary field is a both urgent and long-term matter.

Life and career of President Ho Chi Minh have become an endless source for creative activities of generations of writers and artists in all types of arts. In the literary field alone, literary works about Uncle Ho have been a large flow, with many poets, such as To Huu, Che Lan Vien, Xuan Dieu, Hoang Trung Thong, Minh Hue, Vien Phuong, and Tran Dang Khoa, a lot of writers, including Son Tung, Ho Phuong, Hoang Quang Uyen, and Nguyen The Quang as well as a large number of literary researchers and critics, namely Dang Thai Mai, Hoang Xuan Nhi, Ha Minh Duc, Phong Le, Phan Ngoc, Le Xuan Duc, Doan Trong Huy, and Nguyen Thanh Tu. In recent years, inspired by the famous novel entitled “Green Lotus Bud” in 1981 and other literary works about Uncle Ho by Son Tung, several novels, such as “Father and Son” about Uncle Ho’s childhood, “Song of Rivers” in 2013 by Nguyen The Quang about final years of Hoang Thi Loan - Mother of President Ho Chi Minh, and “The Sun in Pac Po” in 2010, “Liberation” in 2013, and “Looking at the Motherland from afar” in 2017 about Uncle Ho’s life from his path to save the nation to the August Revolution and the 9-year resistance war have more clearly depicted the greatness of President Ho Chi Minh. Those literary works have also proved Vietnamese writers’ never-ending respect and admiration for Uncle Ho. Studying, praising and honouring President Ho Chi Minh’s life and career represent both voluntary passion and sacred duty of generations of Vietnamese writers and artists.

President Ho Chi Minh talking with writers and artists (file photo)

Furthermore, the image of Ho Chi Minh has become a topic of great magnetism and held a position of paramount importance to Vietnam’s modern literature. In fact, not only Vietnamese authors but also a large number of foreign poets, writers and artists, such as  Madeleine Riffaud (France), Ewan MacColl (UK), Ernst Schumacher (Germany), Pavel Antokolsky (Russia), Georgi Veselinov (Bulgaria), Lisandro Otero (Cuba), and René Depestre (Haiti) have written about President Ho Chi Minh. Cuban poet Felix Pita Rodriguez has proved the inspiration from Uncle Ho with his poem entitled “Your Name, Ho Chi Minh.”

In recent decades, to implement their “peaceful evolution” strategy, the hostile forces have focused on distorting and denying the image of Ho Chi Minh. According to them, the socialist regime in Vietnam survives to this day under “the shadow of legendary Ho Chi Minh.” Therefore, in order to remove the socialist regime in Vietnam, one of the most important things to turn Ho Chi Minh into a fallen idol. They have spread information and arguments to distort and deny Ho Chi Minh from abroad. A number of researchers, journalists, and writers both at home and abroad have also produced and published works to actively encourage the hostile forces’ acts of sabotage against President Ho Chi Minh.

Over the past 30 years, publications, works, and documents distorting and denying President Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics have taken both forms of fiction (short story, novel) and non-fiction (memoir, research, criticism). Typical examples include “Ho Chi Minh is not the author of the prison diary” - a research by Le Huu Muc in 1990, “The Prophecy Fulfilled” - a short story by Tran Huy Quang in 1992, “Their True Colours” - a memoir by Bui Tin in 1994, “Darkness in Daytime” - a memoir by Vu Thu Hien in 1997, “General Evaluation of Ho Chi Minh” - a research by Minh Vo in 2003, and “The Zenith” - a novel by Duong Thu Huong in 2009. The documentary film entitled “Truth about Ho Chi Minh,” which was advocated by the National Movement Enquiring to Return the City Name Saigon and published within the Vietnamese American community in 2009, is also a typical example of the campaign to pull down the idol of Ho Chi Minh. Generally speaking, those publications and materials all contain distorted information about Ho Chi Minh as follows.

First of all, they distort Ho Chi Minh’s personal life. Over the years, Ho Chi Minh’s private life has always been at the forefront of the hostile forces’ distortion scheme. According to a number of literary works and researches from abroad, Ho Chi Minh had not sacrificed his own life for the nation; he had wife, kids, and many lovers. Hence, they have accused Ho Chi Minh of being immoral, not daring to admit and mercilessly abandoning his wife and kids. They have written such stories about Ho Chi Minh’s private life in their memoirs, articles, novels, and researches. Those documents share one thing in common that all pieces of information about Ho Chi Minh’s private relationships have not been built on any solid foundation or scientific evidence.

Second, they distort Ho Chi Minh’s personality. For ages, the hostile forces have always distorted Ho Chi Minh’s noble personality and turned him into another person who he is really not. They have invented stories in which Ho Chi Minh had been described as mediocre, instinctive and extravagant, which is totally contradictory to propaganda by the communist regime. Those arguments and distortions have been published mainly abroad by several extremist anti-communist elements, such as Hoang Quoc Ky, Nguyen Thuyen and Viet Thuong; they have been collected and introduced by Minh Vo in his book entitled “General Evaluation of Ho Chi Minh,” together with the author’s extremely negative comments and judgements. Moreover, salacious details have appeared heavily in the novel by Duong Thu Huong in a bid to defame President Ho Chi Minh and actively support the hostile forces’ fallacies. Like distortions of Ho Chi Minh’s private life, those pieces of information mentioned above about Uncle Ho’s personality have not been based on nay specific evidence and many of details have been trivial and not worth being used to assess Ho Chi Minh as a great man and an international figure.

Third, they deny the copyright of Ho Chi Minh and distort his literary works. In his book entitled “Ho Chi Minh is not the Author of the Prison Diary,” Le Huu Muc (former professor of the Saigon University of Letters) has proved that the author of the Prison Diary was an old Chinese man who had been Nguyen Ai Quoc’s fellow prisoner in Hong Kong and that Ho Chi Minh took that poetry collection for his own. Those arguments by Le Huu Muc are completely subjective, dogmatic, and illogical. Obviously, Muc’s arguments were refuted by scholar Phan Ngoc in the article entitled “the story about the author of the Prison Diary” in 1993 and by Phan Kha Minh in the Hon Viet Magazine in late 2019.

Fourth, they deny Ho Chi Minh’s patriotic and national ideology. Ho Chi Minh’s ideology is a harmonious combination of national independence and socialism. He is a Vietnamese patriot and revolutionary communist at the same time. He both devotes himself to Vietnamese nation and advocates proletarian internationalism, which is proved by his whole life and career. The Resolution on celebrating the Centenary of the Birth of President Ho Chi Minh by the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris in 1987 clearly stated that President Ho Chi Minh was an excellent symbol of national self-assertion, having devoted all his life to the struggle for the national liberation of the Vietnamese people, contributing to the common struggle of the peoples for peace, national independence, democracy, and social progress. Regardless of historical facts, the hostile forces have deliberately opposed those praises for President Ho Chi Minh by the UNESCO. They believe that Ho Chi Minh did not love his country and people and that he worshipped communist internationalism and served China and Soviet Union for all his life. That has been the consistent viewpoint of Minh Vo on President Ho Chi Minh; in his book entitled “General Evaluation of Ho Chi Minh,” he has extolled those who share the same viewpoint with him (Tuong Vinh Kinh, Nguyen Thuyen) and criticises those who disagree with him (Jean Lacouture, David Halberstam). Moreover, Minh Vo has made irrational judgements about Ho Chi Minh’s ideology.

Fifth, they deny Ho Chi Minh’s achievements in saving the country, liberating the nation and building a solid foundation for the new regime. Leader Ho Chi Minh made an enormous contribution to gaining national freedom and independence, ending nearly one hundred years of French colonialism and Vietnamese feudalism, and laying a basic foundation for building a democratic republic from nothing to something in all fields. That fact is undeniable. Nonetheless, in “The Zenith” whose protagonist is President Ho Chi Minh - a simulated and distorted image of President Ho Chi Minh, Duong Thu Huong has completely denied the current political regime in Vietnam, described it as vile and backward, and blamed it on Ho Chi Minh as its founder. In addition to denying Ho Chi Minh’s merit in the national liberation, Duong Thu Huong has not recognised the achievements in the August Revolution and the two resistance war led by our Party and President Ho Chi Minh. Similar to Duong Thu Huong, in his book entitled “The Prophecy Fulfilled,” Tran Huy Quang have written about the moment when the young man Nguyen Ai Quoc first found Leninism with a sarcastic tone. By means of metaphor, the short story by Tran Quang Huy has illustrated the argument by Nguyen Thuyen and Minh Vo that Ho Chi Minh “pursues an exotic doctrine and brings disaster to the nation.” At the same time, it has distorted the leader’s personality when implying that President Ho Chi Minh had taken advantage of the masses to fuflil the purpose of his life.

Over the years, literary works about Ho Chi Minh have mainly praised and honour the President. There has been a very small number of works which are aimed at combating distortions of Ho Chi Minh. Meanwhile, the hostile forces have established clear goals and targets. They have devoted more efforts to their strategy for “pulling down the idol of Ho Chi Minh” and used various social networks to step up their acts of sabotage. Hence, correctly identifying and fighting against wrong, hostile viewpoints on Ho Chi Minh and distortions and denial of his ideology and ethics in literature and the ideological-cultural fields as a whole is a matter of urgency. Nevertheless, many writers are afraid to fight the hostile forces and a lot of newspapers hesitate to create forums for discussing political issues. A large number of writers and artists only focus on everlasting human affairs instead of political issues. Not many young people, including young writers are interested in politics or knowledgeable about Vietnamese and global history and leaders’ life. A number of people want to rebut and combat the hostile forces’ viewpoints, but they are not capable of studying researches written in foreign languages on President Ho Chi Minh.

To step up the fight against the hostile forces’ wrong viewpoints on and their distortions of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics, it is necessary to have a systematic, comprehensive and deep command of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and revolutionary career. At the same time, it is essential to grasp the system of documents and viewpoints by the Politburo, the Party Central Secretariat, and the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education on culture, literature, and arts. Moreover, it is important to have deep knowledge of culture, literature, history, and other social sciences, harmoniously combine “fighting” with “building,” and employ both direct and indirect forms of struggle via mass media. Last but not least, to effectively introduce Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics to cadres and the people, due regard should be paid to widely spreading Ho Chi Minh’s works, producing more works about Ho Chi Minh, and clarifying his ideology and moral example via writers and artists’ works. Protection of President Ho Chi Minh’s ideology and ethics is to defend the truth and represents an urgent and long-term task.

Lt. Col., Author Pham Duy Nghia, PhD, Deputy Executive Editor of the Military Literary Magazine

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