“October 1917: Breakthrough towards Socialism” on the Centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution
First of all, I would like to convey to all Russians comrades and representatives of all fraternal parties the warmest greetings and solidarity from the Communist Party of Vietnam.
100 years ago, the Great October Socialist Revolution had open a new bright future for humanity – an epoch of socialism – a qualitatively new society free from exploitation of man by man, a society based on equality between all nations, nationalities and human beings, a society oriented towards progressive and human values. In fact, Russian Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin had turned a long-standing dream of mankind of class and social liberation into an actual reality, that why the October Revolution enjoyed such a strong and wide support both in other capitalist countries and their colonies. The foundation of the Soviet Union had changed one of the most backward country in Europe into the world economic, scientific, cultural and military superpower; turned hundreds millions of peasants and workers living in slavery and poverty to the masters of their society, where all people had been enjoying free housing, education, healthcare and living in dignity. Since 1930 there has been no more unemployment in the USSR. During only 12 years from 1928 to 1940, Soviet economy had been growing at average 12-15% yearly and increased by 450%. The Soviet heroic army and people had played a decisive role in the liberation of humanity from fascism in the Second World War, sacrifying 26 millions people and nearly 1/3 of the country’s wealth. Despite these huge losses, Soviet industrial capacity in 1950 was 13 times more than that of Russia in 1913. Soviet economy in the 50’s had been growing 10,3% at average every year. In 1967, 50 years after the October Revolution, Soviet population increased by 49% comparing to 1913. The total production outputs of the socialist countries in 1967 increased 20 times comparing to 1937 while the most developed capitalist countries this increase was only 3,4 times during the same period. Average life expectancy in the USSR in 1967 was 70 years while it was 67 years in the USA. Even in 1987, during the period of stagnation before the collapse, socialist countries still produced 40% of the total world’s industrial products; industrial growth in the USSR was still at 5, 3% while it was only 2,6% in the USA. These objective facts and figures, among others, clearly show the socio-economic superiority of actual socialism and reject any false argument that the collapse of the USSR and socialist Eastern Europe was objectively inevitable.
We should also recall the fact that the workers – peasants State founded by Lenin had introduced for the first time in the history of mankind a qualitatively new type of relationship between nations based on friendship, equality, solidarity and respect of the right of self-determination. On this basis, Finland was free from Russia in 1918 while much other country joined Russia on their will to establish the USSR in 1922. The victory of the USSR at the World War II had led to the emergence of socialist countries in Europe, encouraged liberation revolutions in Vietnam and China.
We should never forget that the strong support of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries had enabled the victories of many other nations of the world in the national liberation struggle against colonialism and neo-colonialism, against imperialist aggressions and the apartheid in the 20th Century, particularly the liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people against the US imperialist aggression. The very power and policy of the Soviet Union and socialist camp had been also an important factor for maintaining the world peace and stability after the World War II. At the same time, the very existence of the socialist system and particularly its obvious superiority in the area of social justice and progress had been also an important factor in forcing capitalist ruling class to accept much compromise in favor of the working class and people, particularly, by developing welfare system in their respective countries. In words, the October Revolution had changed the fate of not only Russian people but also of the world for the better. This is an undeniable fact.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and socialist countries in Eastern Europe was not at all inevitable. Though it’s true that all socialist countries have been always a main and permanent target of the imperialist attack and sabotage but the history also had proved that no enemy can defeat a socialist country supported by its people, for example the invasion of fascist Germany on the USSR in the 40’s or the aggressions of the USA against Vietnam and Cuba in the 60’s. The collapse of the USSR was enabled mainly due to subjective reasons, particularly the betrayal of the CPSU top leadership in the late 80’s.
Socialism is qualitatively new type of society – a values-oriented society for all-round development of all its members, not a profit-driven society based on primitive individual interests, such as greed, like capitalism. Building of socialism is not a spontaneous or short-term process but a long-term consistent efforts of creation of a new society based on progressive ideas and scientific vision; any interruption would lead to the abolishment of all achievements. Building socialism is only possible with an active participation of all people on the one hand and a permanent and correct leadership of a political party guiding this process on the other hand. The requirement of the quality of the ruling party, particularly, its leadership, therefore, is very high; it should always capable to represent the “brain and conscience of the time” according to Lenin or being example of “ethics and civilisation” according to Ho Chi Minh. Unfortunately, it was not always the case. The stagnation of theoretical work could not meet the demands of new stage of further development of socialism in the USSR since 70’s. The over centralisation and bureaucratization of the Party and the State has gradually distanced themselves from the masses and reality. Especially, the mistakes in the carder’s work had led to the entering of the opportunist elements to the leadership of the CPSU. Gorbachov’s “perestroika” did not bring about “more socialism” as promised but led to the destruction of the great socialist power from inside. This is a huge lost and historic setback for the humanity.
But the collapse of the Soviet Union and socialist countries in Eastern Europe doesn’t mean the “end of history”; it doesn’t mean that socialism is no more relevant.
In Vietnam, after the liberation and reunification of the country, we applied quickly the economic model based on the centralized planning mechanism, state and collective ownership of production means and regime of average subsidized distribution. The advantage of this model is to demolish the exploitation, ensuring socio-economical equality and employment for all. But the limitation is the very low productivity. Being an agricultural country but agricultural output was always not enough to feed people. There was a serious shortage of all other essential goods. That was one of the direct reasons causing the severe socio-economic crisis in Vietnam in 1980s with the inflation rose up to of more than 700%/year.
We acknowledged our biggest mistake was the subjectivity and voluntarism, the impatience in the transition period, the confusion between desired objectives and the existing immature objective conditions. In fact, we over-socialized the productive relations beyond the existing low level of development of productive forces, which in its turn exterminated the production motivation. The top-down centralized planning mechanism has limited the dynamism and creativeness of the grassroots and all social layers. In order to maintain a minimal social welfare, we had to use all available resources and remain lacking of capital for development investment. The consequence was that everybody were equal but remain equally poor and without any perspective of improvement.
The “Renewal” policy initiated by the VI Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1986 was to overcome those shortcomings and mistakes while being persistent with the objective of building socialism. After the past nearly 30 years of implementation, we can sum up with some main features of Renewal policy as follows:
Firstly, it is to develop the socialist-oriented market economy. The application of market mechanism is mainly to deal with the issue of motivation in order to liberate, develop the productive forces and create the technical-economic conditions for socialism in the transition period. However, since market has its own rules and negative side, it should be organized, supplemented and regulated accordingly. The main characteristics of the Vietnam’s socialist-oriented market economy are:
– A market economy with socialist objectives. While the primary, direct target of market actors is profit, the objectives of socialist-oriented market economy are comprehensive development towards socialism, including development of economy, productive forces, cultural and social development and environmental protection. The system of integrated targets of development is defined annually and in mid-term by the Party, National Assembly, and Government. All activities of State, market and society are oriented towards achieving these targets;
– A market being managed and regulated by the socialist State in order to utilize the positive sides, minimize the negative ones, directing the market activities into implementation of given comprehensive development goals;
– The market mechanism is combined with macro planning by the State; resources are distributed through market in combination with national, community target programs in order to achieve comprehensive development goals.
Secondly, to diversify economic ownership in which the state economy plays a leading role. The facilitation of development of various economic sectors, including the private one, is aiming at liberation of the productive forces and mobilization of social resources for economic development. However, the state economic sector should play dominating role in key areas essential to macro economy such as energy, finance-banking, tele-communications, aviation, railways, maritime, public transportation, etc.; the state economy plays an active role in important industries of production, service, distribution which affects the interest of a large community such as heavy industries, civil construction, pharmacies, food distribution, etc. The land and natural resources remain at all-people ownership under the state management. Along with the development process of production force, especially in agriculture, the trend of forming volunteer co-operatives is also speeding up.
Thirdly, to advance social progress and justice in every step of economic development and in every economic policy, program and project. We are aware that in the market economy in particular and in the transition period in general, it is impossible to avoid the gap between the rich and the poor; but the State and the whole society should focus on upholding the poor, supporting the disadvantages, reducing poverty, increasing access to education, healthcare, social welfare as well as the improving and enhancing living standard of the people accordingly on every step of economic development. In differences to the charitable nature, tiny and inadequate re-distribution under capitalism, these are persistent and obligatory targets to be achieved in the development process towards socialism. While it is not possible yet to overcome the development gap between the regions, the State concentrates efforts and resources on supporting the development in rural, remote and mountainous areas.
As a result, Vietnam has succeeded to move out from the low-income countries, became not only self-sufficient but also an leading food exporter of the world; the economic structure has transformed towards industrialization, modernization; the number of poor households has been reduced from 58% in 1993 to 5,8% in 2016; the access to education, healthcare constantly has been expanded significantly; the average life expectation has increased from 62 years in 1990 to 73,4 years in 2016.
However, we are still encountering with numerous limitations, mainly in the quality of economic growth, quality of education, healthcare service; part of the people is still living in difficulty; number of social issues is still acute; internal and external challenges remain essential, etc.
We acknowledge that in the current transition we do not have socialism yet; socialist factors exist concurrently and comparatively with those of capitalism. The socialist-oriented development is a process of developing, reinforcing and consolidating socialist factors to become dominant, prevailing and at certain stage, irreversible in the society. It is a long-term and consistent process requiring a stable, consistent leadership of the ruling Communist Party; all the political interruption might lead to the risk of demolishing all obtained achievement. Therefore, we always focus on enhancing the leadership capacity and militancy of the Party, purifying and reinforcing the Party, increasing the close relationship between the Party and people.
Based on the reality of 30 years of Renewal in Vietnam, we can draw some lessons as follows:
Firstly, while there can be common socialist objectives, the path to socialism can be various, depending on real conditions of each country and concrete historic situation at each period. The transition to socialism is a long-term, because facing with many difficulties and complexity, which requires the persistence, consistency and creative application of Marxist-Leninism to adapt to concrete situation of each country.
Secondly, political, ideological and ethical degradation and corruption are permanent threats to all parties, especially the ruling ones. That’s why communist parties should permanently renew and consolidate themselves, to continuously enhance their leadership capacity and militancy, to reinforce and strengthen their close relationship with the people.
Thirdly, the market needs a management, regulation by a socialist State in combination with macro planning, the leading role of State economy, in order to straight forward to the comprehensive socialist-oriented development objectives.
Fourthly, it is necessary to push forward the social progress and justice in every step of economic development, economic development policy and programme.
Despite numerous existing limitation and challenges, the achievements of nearly 30 years of renewal in Vietnam show that the socialist-oriented development can deal successfully with economic development and at the same time, can deal with the issue of social justice much better than any capitalist society at the same level of economic development.
The achievements of building and defending socialism in the remained socialist countries, especially in Vietnam, China, Cuba and Laos, during past decades have once again proved that socialism is not only possible, but also very much viable and that it is good and necessary for people, it is the only real alternative to the crises faced by humanity today. That is our belief and that is unwavering objective we are striving for.
Long lives the Great October Socialist Revolution!
Long lives socialism!
Long lives international solidarity!