PhD. Nguyen Manh Hung*
The Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 12th Tenure on “Strengthening Party building and rectification; prevent, and repel degradation of political ideology, ethics, lifestyle, manifestationsof internal “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” identifies one of the internal “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” manifestations is “nulifying the socialist-oriented market economy”(1), which denies Vietnam’s achievements in economic development, and maintains that economic development lines of the Communist Party of Vietnam are wrong.
One of the arguments put forward to deny the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam is the interpretation that the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) seems to make a “switch” in the market economy, moving from a socialist-oriented market economy to a capitalist economy, claming that:
In theory, the market economy belongs to capitalism, which operates by the rules of capitalism, cannot reconcile and combine with socialist construction and socialist orientation in national development because there are differences, oppositions, and even contradictions between them. By “combining” socialist orientation with the market economy, it is like putting “water and fire” together which is not compatible and hence failure. Thus, a market economy does not exist in a socialist country like Vietnam. Hence Viet Nam is opted to shift to capitalist market economy, and follow the capitalist path.
The arguments go on to say that in practice, the building and developing a socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam has failed and is currently facing many difficulties; constraints and differences have occured and cannot be settled. As a result, Vietnam seems to be turning its axis to developing a market economy in the direction of capitalism, which is in fact changing and departing from the nature of socialism, embarking on new “capitalist” path by encouraging private economic development, and increasing the regulation of the market.
Such “allegations” are actually distorting the lines of developing socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam, demanding that our Party abandon the socialist road and bring the country to the orbit of capitalism in order to develop its economy. All these have caused skepticism, hesitation, lack of confidence, especially confidence in the cause of socialist construction in Vietnam.
These “arguments” are erroneous, non-scientific, theoretically and practically groundless, containing differences in analysis assessment, and are subjective, unfounded and imposing comments.
First, the viewpoint that the market goes with capitalism and exists only in capitalism is erroneous and unfounded in both theory and practice.
Historically, market economy developed along with the emergence of capitalist mode of production. Capitalism has used market economy to generate wealth, profits, and accumulation. However, market economy and capitalism are two different issues. Market economy is a mode, the kind of economic organization that human society created, the achievement of human civilization, which can exist in different socio-political regimes. Market economy is born and develops depending on conditions that create it, such as the development of production capacity, and division of social labor. Market economy itself cannot determine the nature and development orientation of a socio-political regime. The nature of a socio-political regime will determine the nature of market economy. Market economy may exist in different socio-political regimes when the above-mentioned conditions are formed. Capitalism is another matter. It is a socio-political regime ruled by capitalists; besides capitalism, there are many other social-political regimes. Thus, the identification of the market economy as a kind of economic organization with the only socialist-political system of capitalism is an erroneous, one-sided, and unfounded point of view.
Reality in the world has proved that many countries with different socio-political regimes, which do not follow the capitalist socio-political regime, have still used market economy in service of economic development and recorded many achievements, such as Vietnam, China, and Laos.
Second, in the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam, there is no opposition or contradiction between “market economy” and “socialist orientation.” Instead they are unified and closely linked, acting as the two most important elements, “driver” and “aims” of the socialist-oriented market economy.
First of all, market economy is a type of production organization that, through its rules, such as the rule of value, supply and demand, and competition to develop production forces and raise labor productivity. The “aims” of market economy always attach to a certain socio-political system and serve the objectives and benefits of that system. The aims of the market economy in capitalist regime are to serve and bring benefits to the ruling bourgeoisie. In the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam, the aims of market economy is for development and liberation of production forces to build and create infrastructure, serve the interests of the working people and perfect production relations in order to build superstructure, and socio-political system of socialism. These aims are materialized under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the management of the rule-of-law socialist State toward the socialist-oriented market economy.
The “aims” of the socialist orientation and “dynamism” of Vietnam’s market economy do not nullify each other, but rather integrate, link and mutually support each other in a unified entity. In the socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam, socialist orientation is fully taken into account when operating the principles of the market while the implementation of the socialist orientation is inseparable from the rules of the market, promoting the market economy development, proactively leading that process to create necessary preconditions and socio-economic conditions for socialist construction in Vietnam. The linkage and mutual assistance between market economy and socialist orientation are reflected in the following basic contents:
– In the socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam, the advantages of the market mechanism are promoted to make full use of all resources for the rapid and sustainable development of the economy. Meanwhile, socialist orientation under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the management of the law-governed socialist State supports the market economy, limits its constraints and prevents its failure, boots hunger eradication and poverty alleviation, encourages people to get rich, thus contributing to the healthy and effective market economy development.
– In Vietnam, the linkage between the socialist orientation and market economy development helps accelerate fast, sustainable and effective economic development for the benefits of the entire working people, assures people-centered development and policies for the people and by the people. In the socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam, economic development has always been coupled with cultural and social development, social progress and equity in each step and development policy. Social progress and equity are shown in a number of areas in which equity in the distribution of production factors, access to and use of opportunities and development conditions are important. Distribution of products is mainly based on the results of work, economic efficiency, and at the same time the contribution of capital and other resources and distribution through social security and welfare systems.
– Market economy associated with socialist orientation will help promote democracy and the people’s rights to mastery; orient economy development to improve people’s well-being; strengthen social consensus, national unity; motivate the entire people, bring into play people’s potentials in building and developing the economy.
Thus, the socialist-oriented market economy possesses the common nature of market economy to drive economic development, and specialized characteristics based on the socialist principles and nature on development goals.
Third, the socialist-oriented market economy model is an economic model suitable to the conditions and circumstances of Vietnam and there is no “switch” to captialism.
First of all, it is noticeable that Vietnam’s starting point for socialist construction is economically low and the path of socialist construction in Vietnam is transitional and indirect through many stages and steps. In the early stages of socialist construction, in order to develop the economy from a low starting point, Vietnam must essentially develop a market economy with various forms of ownership and economic sectors, including the private sector and inevitably use the rule of the market to regulate the economy.
The argument that there is a switch in development of the market economy in Vietnam is wrong as by only basing on private economic development and regulation of economy by market rules in the early stage of socialist construction it blames Vietnam for taking the country to the path of capitalism. It also fails to fully note principles, nature and content of socialist construction in Vietnam in each stage, as well as in the whole period. Here, this point of view is unrealistic and does not fully understand the nature and content of the process of socialist construction in Vietnam when considering a specific task or objective of a stage, a step in socialist construction of Vietnam as the overall goal, nature, and principles of the whole period of socialist construction in Vietnam.
Determining whether an economy is “socialist” or “capitalist” is based not only on the criteria of private ownership, private economic sector or market regulation but also other criteria, such as for what class and strata economic development is aim at; what are the nature and principles of the economy? Who is the real master of that economy? How is the formation and development of that economy?
The socialist-oriented market economy model in Vietnam has been gradually improved and developed through the congresses of the Communist Party of Vietnam on the basis of theoretical study and review of economic development practices in the country, creative application of Marxist-Leninist ideas, Ho Chi Minh Thought, selectively absorbing views and experiences of market economy development of others countries in the world. The 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam pointed out the basic implications of the socialist-oriented market economy: “The socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam operates fully and completely in line with the rules of market economy, while ensuring socialist orientation in accordance with each stage of development of the country. It is a modern and globally integrated market economy managed by the rule-of-law socialist State, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, aimed at the objectives of “rich people, strong country, democratic, equitable and civilized society.” (2)
The socialist-oriented market economy of Vietnam “has advanced production relations that are in line with the level of development of production forces, different forms of ownership, economic sectors, in which the state economic sector plays the vital role, and the private economic sector is an important driver of the economy; stakeholders of all economic sectors are equal, cooperative and competitive in accordance with the law; the market plays a key role in mobilizing and effectively allocating development resources, and is the major driver for production force liberation; state resources are allocated according to strategies, and plans suitable to market mechanism. The State plays the role of guiding, building and perfecting economic institutions, creating a fair, transparent and healthy competitive environment; uses its tools, policies and resources to orient and regulate the economy, promote production and business and protect the environment; realizes social progress and equity in each step and each development policy; promotes people’s ownership in socio-economic development.” (3) “The socialist orientation of the economy is established and strengthened consistently through the leadership of the Party and the management of the State, places the people at the center, strives for the people and by the people, brings into full play the role as masters of the people, realizes social progress and equity in each step and each development policy.” (4)
Given the above-mentioned perception it is possible to see that in addition to confirming the full and synchronous operation by the rules of market economy, the content of the socialist orientation of the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam is manifested in a clear and concise manner: the economy is under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the management of the rule-of-law socialist State; the economy is geared towards the principles and the nature of socialism, which are “rich people, strong country, and democratic, equitable and civilized society”; In the economy, the dominant role of the state economic sector is emphasized; economic development is coupled with environmental protection to achieve social progress and equity in each step and each development policy; and promote the role of mastery of the people.
Thus, there are fundamental differences between the capitalist market economy and the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam, and the most striking difference is that in the capitalist market economy the owners are capitalists, and the bourgeois class, and in the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam, the owners are the working people; the people are the center of development; the economy is managed by the rule-of-law socialist State, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam.
In a comprehensive, systematic, objective and scientific perspective, the economy of Vietnam is a fully socialist-oriented economy, aiming at the principles and objectives of socialism, not “capitalism,” and there is no “switching of axis” to the capitalist market economy.
Fourth, economic development through the development of the socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam over the past time, especially during the 30 years of renovation has achieved important results, creating the foundation for Vietnam to continue to innovate and develop in the future.
Looking back on the 30 years of renewal, Vietnam has made great achievements of historical significance on the road to socialism and defending the socialist fatherland, it is noticeable that “the country has come out of the socio-economic crisis and underdevelopment, becoming a middle-income developing country, and is accelerating industrialization, modernization and international integration. The economy is growing, and the socialist-oriented market economy has gradually been formed and developed. Social and political stability has been maintained; defense and security have been strengthened. Cultural and social development have been made; The country has undergone changes and people’s well-being has been improved. Socialist democracy has been promoted and increasingly extended. The great national unity is strengthened. The work of building the Party, the rule-of-law State and the political system has been stepped up. The national strength in all aspects is raised; Vietnam has resolutely and persistently protected its independence, sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and socialism. Vietnam’s foreign relations have expanded and deepened; its position and prestige have been improved in the international arena.”(5)
The World Bank in a report also highly valued Vietnam’s achievements in economic development: “Vietnam is a major development success story. Its per capita GDP growth since 1990 has been among the fastest in the world. Growth has also been remarkably stable and inclusive, which, with major gains on human development, has contributed to impressive progress in alleviating poverty and improving nonincome dimensions of welfare. Vietnam is an unrecognizably transformed, dynamic, middle-income economy. Social outcomes have improved dramatically across the board. Using a variety of international and national poverty lines, poverty has fallen rapidly since the launch of Ðổi Mới. The $1.90-a-day poverty rate fell from 50 percent in the early 1990s to 3 percent today. Not only are incomes higher, but the Vietnamese population is better educated and has a higher life expectancy than most countries at a similar per capita income.”(6)
The past 30 years of renovation has proved that we have made great achievements in economic development because of the correct, scientific and effective use of the socialist-oriented market economy as a means to build socialism in Vietnam in both theoretical and practical terms. These accomplishments provide important preconditions and foundation for Vietnam to continue to innovate and develop in the future and confirm that the lines on the economic development of the Communist Party of Vietnam are correct, creative in conformity with reality of Vietnam and the development trend of history.
The “argument” that Vietnam seems to shift it market economy toward the capitalist market economy is subjective and erroneous point of view. Theoretically, this stance is based on unscientific, illogical, non-systematic and incomplete analysis, and observations. In practice, this allegation is also bias, impractical, and unrealistic as it fails to notice Vietnam’s historical context in socialist construction, and acknowledge achievements in economic development, and construction of a socialist-oriented market economy in Vietnam in recent years.
(1) Documents of the 4th Plenum of Party Central Committee, 12th Tenure, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p. 32
(2) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p. 25
(3) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Op.cit. p.p. 25-26
(4) Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 12th Tenure, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2017, p. 31
(5) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Op. cit. p.p. 65-66
(6) The World Bank and the Ministry of Planning and Investment of Vietnam: Vietnam 2035, Toward Prosperity, Creativity, Equity, and Democracy, Hanoi, 2015, p. 3
*Member of the Scientific Secretariat of the Central Theoretical Council
(This article was published on Communist Review No 898 (August 2017)