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Historical and practical values of “Revolutionary Path”

The book entitled “Revolutionary Path”, which is among late President Ho Chi Minh’s most important legacies,  has been recognized as a national treasure by our Party and State.

Ho Chi Minh’s work “Revolutionary Path” (file photo)

As the name would suggest, the work mapped out Vietnam’s revolutionary path, including revolutionary lines, goals, ideals and motivation, revolutionary theory’s role, to name but a few, which served as an ideological and theoretical prerequisite for the advent of Vietnam’s Communist Party on February 3rd, 1930. Apart from its historical value, the 90-year-old book is of great value to today’s Vietnamese revolution in theoretical and practical terms.

1. Historical background and value

The “Revolutionary Path”, first published by Ministry of Publicity under the Union of Asian Oppressed Nations in 1927, is a collection of lectures by Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh’s alias) to revolutionary cadres’ training course in Guangzhou (China) between 1925 and 1927.

Amidst burgeoning revolutionary proletarian movements around the globe, Vietnam’s national liberation movement witnessed the inception of various political colours, which necessitated a new organization with sound lines and policies and solid organizational structure to lead the revolution to success. As a result, the advent of the “Revolutionary Path” was of the essence as a lodestar for the Vietnamese revolution. Political, ideological and organizational preparations were an indispensible prerequisite for the birth of Vietnam’s Communist Party, a true revolutionary party eligible for our revolution’s leadership. History did choose the great leader Nguyen Ai Quoc to shoulder this weighty responsibility.

In his capacity as envoy to the Communist International, in Guangzhou (China) between 1924 and 1927, Nguyen Ai Quoc began to spread communism throughout Asia in general and Indochina in particular. He also monitored and directed revolutionary movements in a number of countries while making political, ideological, theoretical and organizational preparations in person for the advent of Vietnam’s Communist Party. In June, 1925, Nguyen Ai Quoc established the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League (VRYL), gathering Vietnamese patriots in China to prepare a contingent of cadres for the revolution. He ran many a training course for the VRYL, directly giving lectures on revolutionary theory. The VRYL’s advent and its effervescent activities enabled our domestic patriotic movements to undergo positive changes, thereby facilitating the advent of Vietnam’s Communist Party in early 1930.

As such, not only was it a training manual for revolutionary cadres but it also popularized Marxism-Leninism, releasing a breath of fresh air through the Vietnamese revolution. It mirrored political, ideological, theoretical and organizational preparations for the advent of Vietnam’s Communist Party.

 The content of the book was inextricably linked with the Party Founding Conference’s important documents drafted by Nguyen Ai Quoc, including Brief Political Platform, Brief Policy, Brief Statutes and Brief Program. Reflecting maturity of Ho Chi Minh’s thought and style, the book marked a turning point in his journey to national salvation. The work resulted from a perfect combination of theory and practice as well as internalization of Marxism-Leninism into the contemporary Vietnamese revolution.

Reflecting Nguyen Ai Quoc’s deep thinking on revolutionary theory expressed in a succinct, understandable and easy-to-remember manner, the book exerted an overwhelming influence on the masses’ awareness and thinking. “My only wish is that when my compatriots read this book, they will contemplate, then wake up and rise up together for revolution”, explicitly stated Nguyen Ai Quoc.

While 90 years has elapsed alongside resultant rapid changes, Nguyen Ai Quoc’s  ideology reflected in the “Revolutionary Path” is everlasting on our path to national independence in association with socialism chosen by our Party, Uncle Ho and people.

2. Theoretical and practical values

The “Revolutionary Path” encompasses a set of forceful arguments concerning revolution, revolutionary guidelines, revolutionary Parties, revolutionary virtues, interaction between parties and trade unions, peasant unions and youth leagues, and building and development of cooperatives, etc. Each of the arguments reflects his deep thinking, devotion and humanity, which is of the essence to today’s Vietnamese revolution and Doi Moi.

The work examines definitions of revolution, types of revolution, preconditions for revolution, revolutionary virtues, organization of revolutionary forces, and so on. Every single section of the work starts with a question with a view to grabbing rapt public attention. This paper seeks to investigate a number of Nguyen Ai Quoc’s forceful argument as follows:

What is revolution? Nguyen Ai Quoc offered a classic definition of revolution, under which “revolution means replacing the old with the new, the bad with the good”. He argued that replacing a millennia-old society with a new one is extremely challenging. Only by “enlightening the masses”, “infusing them with theories and isms” can revolution be realized. He underlined the importance of ideological and dissemination work and mass mobilization. Perpetuating his ideas in the “Revolutionary Path”, Ho Chi Minh offered dialectical arguments concerning the old and new, the bad and good to avoid being mechanical and rigid in his subsequent work entitled “New Life” published in 1947: “There is no question of complete replacement of the old. The old with good aspects shall be preserved and furthered while the new with good aspects shall be striven for”.

Travelling widely, Nguyen Ai Quoc thoroughly examined the French Revolution,  the American Revolution and so forth. He realized that those revolutions were not staged to the fullest as a minority exploiting class had been replaced by another of its kind and the majority of the labouring people remained susceptible to oppression and exploitation. Revolution shall be staged to the fullest as it involves sacrifice. In other words, power shall be granted to the majority population rather than the minority. Only by doing so can many times of sacrifices be avoided while the masses can enjoy true happiness”, he insisted.

Comparing Russia’s October Revolution and the above-mentioned revolutions, Nguyen Ai Quoc perceived their fundamental difference. “Today, the Russian Revolution is the only to completely succeed in the world whereby the masses enjoy true happiness, freedom and equality as opposed to false freedom and equality the French imperialists boast of in Annam”, he asserted. This argument was reinforced in Ho Chi Minh’s subsequent works, in which socialist revolution means everyone has enough food and clothing, receives proper education and lives in independence, freedom and happiness. Independence makes no sense unless the masses are entitled to freedom and happiness.   Revolution shall bring the masses well-being, freedom and happiness.

What are preconditions for successful revolution?. “The Russian Revolution suggests that a successful revolution is in dire need of a revolutionary party responsible for mobilizing the masses at home and making contact with oppressed nations and proletarians abroad. A revolution owes its success to a strong party as a boat relies on its experienced sailors for plying”, Nguyen Ai Quoc drew a conclusion from the Russia Revolution.

As such, the establishment of a revolutionary party was a matter of urgency to the Vietnamese revolution at that time. He also specified the driving force behind revolution: “Revolution depends on the people (working-peasant class) as the main force and solidarity for its success”.

When it comes to the revolutionary party, Nguyen Ai Quoc highly valued revolutionary theory’s role, namely Marxism-Leninism. Right on the work’s cover page, he took a famous quotation from V.I. Lenin: “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement”. On his journey to national salvation, Nguyen Ai Quoc found his way to national salvation only when he had access to Marxism-Leninism, which he regarded as “a miraculous manual” and “brilliant sunshine” for the Vietnamese revolution. He stated that a party’s strength is attributable to its ism as the core, which is advocated and followed by all of its members. A party without its ism is tantamount to a man without wisdom or a boat without a compass. Among a plethora of doctrines and isms available, Marxism-Leninism is the truest and most revolutionary. “In sum, Vietnam’s Communist Party shall adopt Marxism-Leninism”, asserted Nguyen Ai Quoc.

What are a revolutionary’s qualities? Nguyễn Ái Quốc put forward 23 qualities that a revolutionary has to incorporate into his or her moral and physical behavior, both in relations with himself or herself (14 qualities), with others (5 qualities) and his or her own work (4 qualities).

He considered “virtue as the root of revolution” whereby revolutionary virtues, namely industriousness, thrift, integrity, righteousness, public-spiritedness and selflessness, shall be cultivated. His per se is the embodiment of a revolutionary’s  qualities. Nguyen Ai Quoc’s criteria for a revolutionary’s qualities highlighted in the “Revolutionary Path” have laid an ideological and theoretical foundation for our Party’s establishment of standards in assessing the pool of Party cadres and  members. This, in turn, facilitates the effective implementation of Directive No. 05-CT/TW by the Politburo (the 12th tenure) on the accelerated studying and following of Ho Chi Minh's ideology, morals and lifestyle, and the Resolution of the 12th Party Central Committee’s 4th plenum on Party building and rectifying to forestall and repel degradation in political ideology, morality and lifestyle  as well as manifestations of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within.

The “Revolutionary Path” captures the quintessence of Nguyen Ai Quoc’s ideology, morals and lifestyle, signifying political, ideological and organizational preparations for the coming of Vietnam’s Communist Party. While the book has entered its 90th year, its crystallized core values remain intact in theoretical and practical terms, enabling our Party to maintain its firm leadership of the Vietnamese revolution. In its Platform for National Construction during the Period of Transition toward Socialism (amended in 2011), our Party draws the great lesson of the past, whereby  the Party’s effective leadership is a decisive factor in the success of revolution. The Party shall closely stick to and internalize Marxism-Leninism and resolutely repudiate hostile forces’ misleading viewpoints against Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’ Thought while “strengthening the bloc of great national unity on the basis of the alliance of the working class with the peasantry and the intelligentsia under the Party's leadership”.

The contemporary world’s complicated developments necessitates the Party’s firm leadership, its enhanced leadership capacity and combativeness as well as its political, ideological, organizational, moral strength and purity as stipulated in  the 12th National Party Congress’s Resolution.

As a result, researching and popularizing the “Revolutionary Path” is a matter of importance, especially amidst the entire Party, people and army’s intensified campaign to study and follow Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, morals and lifestyle.

Prof. Dr Le Huu Nghia, former President of Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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