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Marxist-Leninist Economics as an irrefutably theoretical foundation for industrialization and modernization

Theoretical issues concerning industrialization and modernization were thoroughly examined by founders of scientifc socialism from every conceivable angle. This lays a theoretical foundation for Vietnam’s socialist-oriented industrialization and modernization, thereby refuting the claim that Marxist-Leninist Economics is outdated.

Beginning to examine capitalism with commodity, Karl Marx pointed out that the law of value is an economic precondition for the advent of capitalism. By analyzing value and the law of value, Karl Marx proved that value relationships enabled people to be separated from self-dependence and to stick together in social relations, driving economic development. The law of value is equated with  economic power, explicitly indicating that only by answering the call of the market can economic development occur. It suggests a mentality concerning utilized comparative advantages, enhanced competiveness and prioritized growth poles that have been on the table in Vietnam’s strategy for industrialization and modernization.

Karl Marx’s “Capital” presents not only his theory of surplus value, one of his two seminal inventions, but also categories and laws of market economies. It is the biggest publication on the market economy on which reviewing the reality of the modern market economy is grounded by contemporary Marxist economists. Its principles remain irrefutable pertaining to commodity production, market, law of value, law of supply and demand, law of competition, capital market, credit, capital accumulation, rotation and circulation of capital, law of currency circulation. The publication also refutes the claim that Marxist-Leninist Economics is of no avail to the market mechanism that Vietnam pursues towards industrialization and modernization.

Karl Marx devoted much of “Capital” to analysing the movement of capital (both social and particular one) under the market mechanism. His central argument suggests  the growth of capital through the mechanism of constant conversion of surplus value into additional capital (accumulation). Speeding up the process of capital circulation and rotation is a matter of life and death to capitalists in particular, whose top priority is surplus value, and the capitalist economy as a whole. Not counting elements of capitalism, we can see that it is a true mechanism for economic development. It also indicates that increased capital accumulation and investment as well as technical change in production structure  drives economic growth. Promoting industrialization and modernization associated with developing a knowledge-based economy in Vietnam is equated with switching from an economy without accumulation (simple reproduction) to the one with accumulation (expanded reproduction in breadth and depth) on a larger scale. The Marxist theory on reproduction also provides quite a few suggestions on the relationship between accumulation and consumption, between capital accumulation and concentration as well as on great balances in the national economy. As a result, the claim that Marxist-Leninist Economics has nothing to learn from in order to serve our national construction is beyond comprehension.

In order to examine the advent of capitalism (that is to say capitalist industrialization), Karl Marx focused on 3 stages of capitalist development, namely simple cooperation, manufacture and large-scale industry. The historical starting point of capitalist production was a crowd of people working at the same time and at the same place under the control of a capitalist. As such, the production process witnessed a change in the organization of labour, which was direct social labour and cooperation. Cooperation and division of labour in manufacture represents 2 consecutive phases of labour revolution as production was still by hand. They directly socialized the labour process and created the social productive power. The specialization of labour helped to increase productive power of individuals and bode well for a change in instruments of labour. Both of these phases could be considered preparatory to the “take off” phase. The industrial revolution (industrialization) enabled capitalism to shift to the third development phase –large-scale mechanical industry. By this time, mechanical engineering was in the hands of the contemporary production system, thanks to which productive power of individuals was released from humans’ physical limitations, facilitating the introduction of science to production to gradually become a direct productive force. With industrialization, the economy was industry-based alongside the transfer of production structure whereby industry was detached from agriculure to become an independent production sector. It was a boom with a domino effect in the process of industrialization seen in a number of infant industries with the concomitant advent of other industries.

That relations of production shall match the development of productive forces requires that economic development be attributable to productive forces. Amidst Vietnam’s existing industrialization and modernization, it is necessary that the country’s production system undergo quite a few phases, from mechanical engineering to the 4th industrial revolution with great importance attached to the latter’s achievements in order to facilitate the development of productive forces.

Based on historical materialism, Karl Marx determined the relationship between base and superstruture, the former’s decisive role and the latter’s positives. This suggests the idea about the State management over the economic development, that is to say Vietnam’s ongoing process of industrialization and modernization.

It should be noted that Karl Marx’s classical industrialization model was production change-based whereby growth was mainly derived from accumulation and investment. Today, Vietnam shall inherit and develop Marxist-Leninist Economics when it comes to the country’s ongoing process of industrialization and modernization associated with development of a knowledge-based economy. Inheriting Marxist-Leninist Economics without critical thinking runs counter to wishes of Marxian economics’s founders.

V.I. Lenin was chosen by history to undertake a special mission, that is to say directly leading the building of socialism in Russia. While Tsar-ruled Russia had seen capitalism thrive on its soil and achieve Europe’s fifth fastest industrial growth, V.I.Lenin-led nascent Soviet government faced incredible odds, including anti-Soviet forces at home and abroad, a hungry and war-weary Russia. Against this backdrop, V.I.Lenin repeatedly underlined industrial development at all costs, taking heavy industry as a material-technical basis for socialism. In  essence, it was an industrial revolution whereby mechanization and electrification effected production restructuring. Under V.I.Lenin’s leadership, financial, material and intellectual resources were concentrated to prioritize the building of power plants under the slogan “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country”.

During the Russian Civil War (1918 - 1921), Soviet Russia was supposed to implement the “War Communism” policy with top priority assigned to preserving the fledgling Soviet government. In comparison with 1913, after the Russian Civil War ended in 1921,  a drop was recorded in the output of large-scale industry (by 7 times), rail transport (by 7 times), agricultural output (by 2 times), the area of cultivated land (by 25 million  hectares), head of cattle (by 30%). Against this backdrop, V.I.Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) to revive the national economy which was almost ruined. Under the NEP, resources were diverted from heavy industry to agriculture. V.I.Lenin held that reviving and developing the agricultural economy and changing the State-to-peasantry relationship is a must. Under the “War Communism” policy, the private sector and commodity economy in rural areas were revoked, which wiped out the driver of the economy and ruined the political relationship between the working class and the peasantry. According to V.I.Lenin, the alliance of the working class and the peasantry serves as a firm basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Without the peasantry, the building  of socialism is doomed to odds, even failure.

Under the NEP, the development of commodity economy, agricultural recovery, concessions policy and state capitalism are measures for economic development in the initial stage towards large-scale industry. This lays a foundation for Vietnam’s industrialization and  modernization mapped out by our Party.

Ho Chi Minh is a study in internalizing Marxism-Leninism, including Marxist-Leninist Economics, in conformity with Vietnam’s reality in the spirit of independence, self-reliance and creativity, which is mirrored as follows.

First, the goal of socialism is “a prosperous people and a strong country”, “enough food and clothing, happiness and freedom for everyone”. Firmly grasping Ho Chi Minh’s idea, our Party pointed out: “Industrialization and modernization aim to build a prosperous life for the people, a strong country and an equitable, democratic and civilized society”.

Second, industrialization shall derive from agriculture, rural areas and the peasantry. As early as 1960, Ho Chi Minh took agriculture as the starting point of industrialization as North Vietnam embarked on its socialist industrialization. He held that since Vietnam is an agriculture-based country, industrial development in particular and economic development in general shall be mainly derived from agricultural development. Were it not for a modern agricultural system, industrial development would be made impossible. Highlighting the role of agriculture, Ho Chi Minh advocated an all-out agricultural system whereby much importance is attached to the application of technical advances to agriculture, food production and agricultural exports. He also affirmed that “We walked on the path to socialism with two feet, namely agriculture and industry”.

Ho Chi Minh specified that as the majority of Vietnam’s population is comprised of the peasantry, on whom everything is reliant. The peasantry serve as the main force of revolution, an important and trusted ally of the working class and the fundemental force alongside the working class in building socialism.The policy on agricultural development, and rural and agricultural industrialization highlighted in our Party’s recent resolutions is completely in tune with V.I.Lenin’s NEP and Ho Chi Minh’s Thought.

Third, appropriate measures shall be employed to serve as the driver of industrialization. According to Ho Chi Minh, those measures are as follows: (i) special attention shall be paid to the human factor as the centrepiece of development whereby resources shall be concentrated to prioritize education and training (ii) economic and financial management is key to national construction (iii) stepping up production shall be in tandem with exercising thriftiness.

Last but not least, the masses shall be encouraged to fight against negative practices that hamper development, especially corruption, wastefulness and red tape.

Taken overall,  those aforementioned lay a scientific basis for the continued study into Marxism – Leninism and Ho Chi Minh’s Thought in general, Marxist-Leninist Economics in particular for the sake of internalization into Vietnam’s national building so that the country soon becomes modernity-oriented industrialized. In this spirit, we shall ceaselessly stick to Marxism – Leninism  while refuting misleading allegations against our Party’s ideological base.

Maj. Gen. Assoc. Prof Nguyen Minh Khai, Deputy Commandant of Political Academy under Ministry of National Defence

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