Theoretical and practical values of “Revolutionary Ethics” for Party construction today

    11:11 06/05/2019

    It is our Party’s long-term strategy to enhance the revolutionary ethics for cadres, party members and people, which serves as the sustainable foundation for the victory in the nation’s revolutionary cause for a socialist Vietnam with "prosperous people, strong, democratic, equal and civilized nation". The manuscript "Revolutionary Ethics" by President Ho Chi Minh is an invaluable guide for the formulation of personality, quality and dignity of the revolutionary cadres. It is also the message about building a ruling party with the integrity, purity, vigor, wisdom and bravery, which are equivalent to the task entrusted by the Fatherland and the people.

    After the successful resistance war against the French colonialists, people in the North of Vietnam began to build up socialism, becoming the strong backup for the South in the cause for the liberation and national unification. Right in this new context of the revolutionary cause, President Ho Chi Minh soon realized the difficulties and complexities of the road forward, especially the shortcomings and limitations in personnel work. the decadence in political ideology, moral quality and lifestyle originating from individualism can do great harm to the cause of the Party, the nation and our people. Based on the reality, President Ho Chi Minh wrote the “Revolutionary Ethics”, which was published in the Journal of Learning - the Party's theoretical journal, now as the Communist Journal in December 1958.

    60 years have passed but the “Revolutionary Ethics” by President Ho Chi Minh remains theoretically and practically profound. The works keeps its great topical and educational significance and serves as the guidelines for development and enhancement of the Party. It has also become the motto for action, enrichment and education for each cadre and party member today.

    Improving revolutionary ethics, eliminating individualism - the cross-cutting line throughout Ho Chi Minh's thought about morality of officials, party members and the development and regulation of the Party.

    Throughout his life, President Ho Chi Minh always cared about educating ideology and morality of the patriots, officials, party members, young people and the mass. Almost all of his speeches and writings mentioned revolutionary morality. In his will left for the Party, people and the army before his pass-away, he uttered his words: "Our Party is a ruling party. Each party member and cadre must truly imbue revolutionary morality to be truly uphold diligence, thrift, integrity, honesty and impartiality. We must keep our Party clean and deserve to be the leader, the loyal servant of the people” (1).

    As a world cultural figure, President Ho Chi Minh perceived the strengths and weaknesses of a sentimental Asian society, which sustains a lot of outdated traditions and backward habits. different from the rational ideology of the Western democratic bourgeois revolution, he envisioned that Vietnam revolutionary cause had to start from "enlightening people" (2); educating revolutionary ethics and creating revolutionary cadres. This is the source of inspiration for patriotism, the power of the whole nation and Vietnam revolutionary heroism. Revolutionary ethics is the strong foundation for national independence associated with socialism, creating the noble value of a new political party, which is intellectual, "moral and civilized” (3).

    Right from the beginning of Revolutionary Path printed in 1927, the first textbook to introduce Marxism and Leninism into Vietnamese revolutionary reality, he wrote about qualities of a revolutionist. These are the qualities and requirements for those who voluntarily follow the path of saving the country, saving people, liberating the nation, believing and following Marxism and Leninism. Under the light of revolutionary theory, the pioneering revolutionary party first needed revolutionists to shoulder the pioneering revolutionary responsibility. This continues to be clarified and emphasized, repeated many times in his later works, such as "Modifying working styles", "New life", "Patriotic emulation", "Mobilizing people ",... and it is systematically summarized in the Revolutionary Ethics and his last article on Party construction entitled "Improving revolutionary morality, wiping out individualism", published on Nhan Dan Newspaper on February 3, 1969.

    In Revolutionary Ethics, President Ho Chi Minh stated that “Conducting a revolution to transform the old society into a new society is not only a glorious work but also an extremely heavy task, and a complicated, long, arduous struggle. One must be enduring to go the long way and complete difficult task. A revolutionist must have revolutionary morality as the foundation to accomplish the glorious revolutionary task” (4).

    The first revolutionary moral quality must be "a lifelong determination to fight for the Party, for the revolution". This is the "most important thing", "number one standard" for the revolutionists. When voluntarily joining the Party, each party member must be aware of his or her responsibility of voluntary devotion, sacrifice, and determination to fight for the Party in their whole life and for the revolution; being absolutely faithful to the goals and ideal of the Party and the nation.

    The second quality is "working hard for the Party, maintaining the Party's discipline, and implementing the Party's policies and guidelines effectively" (5). The determination to work and fight for the Party must be expressed through concrete actions and specific outcomes, helping to realize the Party's goals and ideal of being clean, strong, and capable of fulfilling the historical mission entrusted by the people.

    The third quality is “prioritizing the interests of the Party and the people, yielding their own personal interests", serving the people wholeheartedly, sacrificing for the Party and for the people, and setting bright examples in everything ”(6) Our Party has no interests but the interests of the people and the nation. The interest of cadres and party members lie in serving and fighting for the interests of the Party and the nation. Officials and party members must be good examples in serving the Party and serving the people. Being aware of the great effectiveness of educating by example, President Ho Chi Minh pointed out that in our Party, many persons had sacrificed their life for the people and Party, setting brilliant example of revolutionary ethics for us to learn from.

    The fourth quality is "thriving to study Marxism and Leninism, always be critical of ourselves and others to improve our thoughts, upgrade our work and make progress with our comrades" (7). He pointed out: "only by learning Marxism and Leninism can we consolidate the revolutionary morality, maintain the stance, improve the political understanding and capacity, and perform the task assigned by the Party effectively” (8). Studying Marxism, Leninism is mastering "the spirit of managing things", and learning the "common truth" of Marxism, Leninism, learning to do, putting theory into practice; avoiding learning mechanically or dogmatically, or learning just to show off the knowledge.

    In order to improve the revolutionary ethics, President Ho Chi Minh pointed out that firstly it is necessary to get rid of individualism, just like cleaning the house before purchasing furniture (9). Individualism is the most terrible and dangerous trace of the old society, "a very cunning and tempting thing, which take people down the road easily". It means "anything that comes from the greed for personal fame and status, not for the interests of the class and the people."  The nature of individualism is "contrary to collectivism", "contrary to revolutionary ethics", "is an evil enemy of socialism."

    Individualism manifests itself in a variety of ways: the desire to enjoy and to rest; choosing position to personal wish rather than doing the work entrusted by the organization; desire of high status but fear of heavy responsibility; boasting about one's deeds; demanding rewards, benefits, honor and status. If personal requirements cannot be met, they blame the Party, becoming arrogant, regarding themselves as heroes with full of conceit, criticizing others while refusing to be criticized, avoiding self-criticism, self-criticizing in a dishonest and unserious way; looking down on non-Party officials; standing away from the mass; not learning but desiring to teach others; being lazy in organizing, communicating and educating people... President Ho Chi Minh pointed out that as for those who infected with individualism, “They face distrust, disrespect and dislike from the mass. In general, they are useless” (10).

    Therefore, he stressed, individualism "blurs revolutionary ethics"; is a root disease that "results in hundreds of dangerous diseases such as bureaucracy, bossiness, factionalism, subjectivity, embezzlement, wastefulness, etc" (11) and always waits for the chance to arise. Therefore, wiping out individualism is the first thing to do, and must be done regularly to protect the Party's prestige, preserve the Party’s solidarity and unity, and keep the Party clean. Wiping out individualism, improving revolutionary ethics is a crucial and brave task in building and regulating the party. It must be done continuously and regularly for long term, so that we can build a calm, wise attitude with steadfast stance and ideology during difficult time and to prevent arrogant, subjective, complacent attitude during victories (12).

    "Revolutionary Ethics" is an invaluable guide for officials and party members to cultivate and train their ideology, morality and behaviors.

    President Ho Chi Minh affirmed that "in order to train revolutionary ethics, we must strive to study, cultivate, and improve ourselves for long-lasting progress", because "revolutionary ethics does not fall from heaven. It is developed and reinforced by constant struggle and training, just like the fact that practice makes perfect” (13).

    Revolutionary ethics are studied and cultivated not only at school, but anytime and anywhere, in different conditions and circumstances, in theoretical and practical activities; in private life as well as in community activities; in the personal and working relationships. At the opening ceremony of the first cohort at Nguyen Ai Quoc Party School in Dinh Hoa, Thai Nguyen in September 1949, President Ho Chi Minh said that "Learning to work, to be a human being, to be an official. Learning to serve the public, the class, the people, the Nation and human race”. His message became the guiding principle for the training of Party cadres, for studying and cultivating revolutionary ethics that every cadre and party member must understand and remember.

    While resolutely fighting against individualism, President Ho Chi Minh reminded us not to understand and exercise it mechanically but we have to distinguish selfish individualism as a negative way of life or the extreme deviation of individualism from individual’s legitimate interests. Fighting against individualism is neither "overriding personal interests" nor personal attack. Scorning or denying individuals is contrary to Marxist dialectics, because “Everyone has their own personalities, strengths, personal and family life. If those personal interests do not conflict with the organization’s interests, it is not bad"(14). “We are not afraid of making mistakes but of having no determination to correct the mistakes we made" (15), he said. Therefore, honest and sincere criticism is the "sharp weapon" to early detect manifestations of individualism, mistakes and shortcomings of officials and party members so that they can be corrected and fixed in time. People’s active role of supervision in self-criticism and criticism should be promoted.

    In order to meet the new requirements of national development, in addition to “socio-economic development as the focus", the document of the 12th National Party Congress defined “Party development as the key task”. In particular, during the 12th tenure, the Party paid great attention to building a comprehensive Party in terms of political ideology, organization, cadres and morality. Selection of cadres with virtues, talent and absolute loyalty to the Party's ideology is the "central" mission among the "key tasks".

    Recently, the Politburo, the Secretariat and the 12th Party Central Committee have issued many important directives and resolutions: Resolution of the 4th Plenum on strengthening Party building and regulation, preventing and repelling the recession of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, manifestations of "self-evolutions" and internal "self-transformation"; Directive No. 05-CT/TW of the Politburo on promoting the study and application of Ho Chi Minh's ideology, morality and style; Resolution of the 7th Plenum on building the contingent of cadres at all levels, especially at the strategic level to have compatible quality, competence and prestige with assigned missions; Regulation No. 08-QDi/TW of the Central Executive Committee on the responsibility of setting example of officials and party members, especially members of the Politburo, members of the Secretariat and members of the Central Executive Committee. In the coming time, the Politburo will issue a regulation on power control and prevention of position seeking and lobbying; The Secretariat will issue a Directive on improving the quality of party membership, reviewing, screening and expelling those who are no longer qualified for party membership ... The Central Committee determines that these are urgent and regular tasks of party organizations, authorities at all levels, political and social organizations, localities and units under the motto of regulating and building a comprehensive, clean, transparent and strong Party, meeting the new requirements for development of the country and deserve people’s trust.

    From the reality of Party building and regulating, especially the current Party personnel work, it is clear that President Ho Chi Minh's guidelines on revolutionary ethics are still valid with profound value. We are more aware of his advice that "A nation, a party and a person, who was great yesterday is not necessarily loved and praised today and tomorrow if they are not pure and contaminated with individualism”(16).

    The fact that officials and party members continuously train and cultivate morality is like creating good antidotes to prevent, repel and fail all intrigues and deceitful tactics of reactionary and hostile forces for our Party, State and people.

    It is essential to be firm on the basis of the Party's ideology, steadfastly follow Marxism, Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thought with no wondering or questioning attitudes. Officials and party members have to pay special attention to the content of political education and ideology, overcome the "laziness to learn political theory". This is a central requirement of the Party building on politics, ideology and revolutionary morality for each cadre and party member, especially those at strategic level.

    Being consistent and steadfast on ideology must go hand in hand with the creative application and development of theory into practice. Officials and party members go to school not to receive dogmatic and dry arguments just to repeat them or to use them mechanically and subjectively. They do not go to school to "take a degree to show off", but they must really learn, firstly thinking methods, principle of actions, methods of innovative and creative application.

    The rapid changing domestic and international context requires leaders and managers at all levels to be regularly fostered and updated with knowledge and skills that are "fundamental, systematic, practical and modern". Knowledge needs to be connected to the breath of life; being close to the people, understand people’s aspirations in order to serve the people. Therefore, the training and retraining of Party cadres must closely follow reality, stem from practice, update practice and summarize reality for development and improvement.

    Each cadre and party member needs to have the sense of self-cultivating and training morality daily.  More importantly, "revolutionary ethics must be practised" on a daily basis. The Party demands members to study and follow President Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, morality and style to let officials, party members examine themselves, correct themselves, and practice the qualities of diligence, thrift, integrity, honesty and impartiality; clean up all symptoms of selfish individualism to be loved and respected by the people. Officials and party members cannot give “dry lecture” but have to really lead and spread among people the idea of serious implementation of the Party's guidelines and the State's law, just like President Ho Chi Minh once taught: "a living example is worth more than a hundred of political speeches" (17).


    (1) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, Publisher. National Politics - Truth, Hanoi, 2011, t. 15, p. 622

    (2) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 2, p. 288

    (3) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 12, p. 403

    (4), (5), (6), (7), (8) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 11, p. 601, 603, 611

    (9) Vu Ky: Uncle Ho wrote an article "Improving revolutionary ethics, wiping out individualism", Nhan Dan Newspaper, January 30, 1999

    (10), (11) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 11, p. 609, 611

    (12) See: Speech of General Secretary of the Party Central Committee Le Kha Phieu, closing the 6th plenum (2nd time) of the Party Central Committee of the 8th tenure, Communist Journal No. 4 (2-1999)

    (13) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 11, p. 612

    (14), (15) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 11, p. 610, 608

    (16) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 15, p. 672

    (17) Ho Chi Minh: Bibliography, ibid. 1, p. 284

    Prof. Dr. Nguyen Xuan Thang, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council, President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics


    Author: Translator: Nguyen Thi Viet Nga/ Proofreader: Vu Thanh Van

    Address: 135 Nguyen Phong Sac - Cau Giay - Ha Noi