Creative vision of Ho Chi Minh in accepting Karl Marx’s doctrine

Posted at: TUEsday - 13/06/2006 15:30 - post name: Administrator


Not so long before his death (September 1nd 1969), Ho Chi Minh had replied to US journalist Anna Louise Strong on his decision “to go abroad for having a look at France and other countries” as follows:

“Vietnamese peoples, among them my father, frequently asked themselves which country could help us topple over French domination. Some believed that is Japan, several thought it is England, and some others maintained that is America. I opted for going abroad to find out by myself the right answer. After having known how they lived, I shall come home to help my compatriots”. (1)

This is a fundamental issue determining the creative vision and the strategy of Ho Chi Minh. He had started on the journey with a luggage of spirit and wisdom, by the following main factors:

1. The Eastern ideology and culture, to put it in a nutshell, the Eastern civilization usually called “static civilization” by the patriotic literati in early XXth century, for opposing western civilization nicknamed as “dynamic civilization”.

2. The Independence tradition of the Vietnam nation community with the summit thinking as “each emperor rules over his own empire” had been asserted by Nguyen Trai (1380-1442) since early XVth century, and the radical idea “for defeating the enemy, we have to know him thoroughly” preached by Nguyen Sinh Sac - Ho Chi Minh’s father - for educating his son.

3. Experiences from the process of failures of all the anti French movements during the second half of XIXth century until the first half of XXth century, despite the glorious exploits, the untold sacrifices “in the desperate struggle of an oppressed nation” (2).

4. The irreversible spreading tide of industrial civilisation from Atlantic Ocean through Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, the  infiltrating all around Africa, Asia. The awareness on the awakening of Asia, the Min Tsi  Renovation achievement in Japan, on the three French slogans Liberty, Equality, Fraternity being heard of since his thirteen years of age.

But meanwhile, by blocking civilisation and progress of the Vietnamese nation, French colonialists had put this nation out of the margin of world civilisation, at perpetuity… (3)

Ho Chi Minh had started going to France for finding out from its very source the secret of western successes, and by his ardent wish for familiarizing with the French civilisation in the search for discovering what is hidden behind such words as Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. And this very fact of “searching from source” had pushed Ho Chi Minh voluntarily integrated into the whole world political life being animated in all the planet after World War I, as well as the epoch making Russian October Revolution in 1917. It could be said that the basis of Ho Chi Minh subsequent revolutionary cause had been formulated during 6 years long (from June 1911 to December 1917). Ho Chi Minh had consecutively crossed oceans and continents to explore the old world and to discover the new one.

During his working visit to France, on July 12th 1946, in a press conference, a reporter asked him: “Venerable President, we have heard you declared that you have the tendency of communism, but you believed that Vietnam could not be a communist nation before a period of 50 years, didn’t you? “Ho Chi Minh had replied: “All people have the right to study a doctrine, an “ism”. I, for one, have studied Karl Marx’s doctrine. 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ said that we have to love our  enemies. Until now, this dictum is not yet realized. And at what time the Karl Marx doctrine shall be realized. I could not answer. For the realisation of communism, it is necersary to have industrial land, agricultural land, and all people are able to develop their capabilities at the utmost. In our country, such conditions are not enough available” (4).

Here, there is a point to be stressed: the fact that Ho Chi Minh accepted Karl Marx doctrine is not an exceptional case, even regarding Vietnamese people. The Russian October Revolution victory (November 7th 1917) had directly led to the existence of the International Communism and its affiliated components, involving most countries, nations worldwide into a high tide of revolutionary drive. In such situation, the acceptance of Karl Marx doctrine had become an universal phenomenon not only in Europe and North America, but also in old and new nations divided according to the Versailles Treaty (1919) in the system of world colonies from Asia to Africa and Latin America.

But in this case, facts to be emphasized rely on: starting from spiritual stature and luggage, intellectual baggage (supplemented by a process of exploring the old world, discovering the new one as above mentioned) the way of accepting Karl Marx doctrine by Ho Chi MInh - different from many contemporary historic personages – had a creative, strategic character, and this very character shall determine the successful development trend of national liberation revolution in Vietnam.

The Congress for establishment of International Communism (March 1919) had officially adopted the slogan: “Proletaries of all countries and oppressed nations, do unite!” But the implementation of this slogan had been confronted with difficulties among the communist movement itself, instigated by a traditional concept of discrimination between metropolitan countries and colonies, on skin’s colour - sometimes under the discriminatory appellation of “civilized” and “backward”. That is not to mention the erroneous opinion of “first, to gain victory of proletariat revolution in metropolitan countries, and then to help colonies engage in liberation revolution etc…” In brief, the liberation of colonial countries depends on - or other wise speaking - must wait for the success of proletariat revolution in metropolitan nations. But to wait for how long? During a political view exchange at 21 o’clock of December 19th 1919 in the house of Lawyer Phan Van Truong, N°7 Villa des Gobelins, Paris, Ho Chi Minh had remarked: “Since 60 years long, the Vietnamese people had waited for change… If ever some people raised their voice for superior authorities to know about their requirements and their miserable plight for overcoming measures, French rulers reply them by imprisonment, exile or death sentence… If we only wait for the kindness of the French government to change the present situation, it is mere illusion! They do not want to consider us as an human race. It is useless to live in humiliation and maltreatment. Once they still deprive us of our civil and political rights, they continue to consider us as enemies, slaves.” (4)

Then, in May 1921, under the column Indochine on the French review La Revue Communiste n° 15 (May 1921), Ho Chi Minh had directly put forth his viewpoints about the a.m issues:

“Whether the communist regime could be established at Asia in general and at Indochina in particular or not? That is a problem we are concerned with at present.

For understanding the problem, we have to examine the actual situation in Asian continent on historical and geographical aspects (…) Now, let us examine the historical root causes permitting the communism to infiltrate in Asia more easily than in Europe.

The Asian people - though regarded by westerners as backward-do understand deeply the necessity of a comprehensive reform for the actual society. And these are the reasons why:

Almost 5.000 years ago, the Emperor Tan Nung (2679 BC) had promulgated and implemented the Tinh Dien system by dividing land parcels to nine equal parts as follows: Each farmer from a group of eight farmers was allotted with one part for rice planting and owning the crops; while the central part was state owned but cultivated by eight farmers in joint labour, the crop produce of this ninth part shall be used for state and collective utility works. The dividing parallel lines were used for irrigation purpose.

The Hsia dynasty (2205 BC) initiated the regime of obligation labour.

The great Confucius (551 BC) instigated the Universal Concord doctrine, and preached the equality on properties. He emphasized: The peaceful sight in this world only appears when the world is Universally Concording. The people do not fear insufficiency, but they are only afraid of inequity. Equity shall abolish poverty.

His disciple, Master Mencius had continued to carry on his doctrine, and elaborated a detailed plan on organisation of production and consumption. The healthy nurture and development of children, the education and obligation labour of adolescents, grown ups, the severe condemnation of parasitism, the caring for rest of aged persons… there is nothing omitted in Mencius’ theory. Abolishing the inequity on possession, on welfare not for a majority (or minority) but for all human beings, that is an economic policy of the clearsighted philosopher. Answering a question of the king, Mencius said frankly: The interest of plain people are above all, secondly, the interests of nation, while those of the King are negligible!

On property ownership, the Vietnamese Law still interdicts the sale and purchase of the whole parcel of land (owned by a person). Moreover, a quarter of cultivated land must be put in collective property. Every three years, this parcel shall be redistributed. Each citizen in the commune, village shall receive a part of it. This way do not forbid some persons becoming rich, for there remains three quarters of other land could be sold or bought, but it could save others escaping poverty” (5)

In “the historical reasons allowing communism to infiltrate more easily in Asia than in Europe”, Ho Chi Minh mentioned the “Universal Concord Theory”, the “Tinh Dien” system, the regime of public land in Vietnam, the “plain people first” of Mencius… Thus, impregnated by the penetrating value of Eastern ideology and culture, from the traditionalism” (6) considered as a national resource, Ho Chi Minh had made a confrontation with western thinking and culture at just a place where the patriot veteran Phan Chu Trinh (1872-1926) had labeled as a “nest of civil rights”. Ho Chi Minh had performed the third dialogue (7) between two civilisations of the East and the West. As a result, Ho Chi Minh had at the same time met with the ancient mankind of the ancient world and had discovered the new mankind of the new world, and then unflinchingly persisted in life long ranking himself on the side of new mankind for finding out the path to liberate and develop his nation and the labour humanity. Clearly enough, even when accessing the  Karl Marx doctrine, by a creative vision, Ho Chi Minh had been able to fix for himself an action strategy/plan for implementing the ideal of liberation and development.

Until the day he bade farewell to this world (September 2nd 1969), the vision, the will power, the exceptional wisdom of Ho Chi Minh were uniquely aimed at such strategy, and had transformed to a supreme sentiment of “passion, excessive passion” by a superman’s life.

Despite the fact at that time, Karl Marx works on pre – capitalist societies had not been published, and though he did not use the concept of pre-capitalism, but based on a capability for analysis and comparison of history between a “suffered Asia” and a “civilised Europe”, right since 1921, Ho Chi Minh had identified the pre-capitalist character of Asian societies and Vietnamese society. And just here, when posing the problem for fixing the strategy of liberation and development, Ho Chi Minh had at once directly discovered the grap of economic organisation (9) between Europe and Vietnam. This gap is also manifest -in the organisation of civil societies with social institutions of capitalism era that Vietnam is yet far to reach, and it means also institutions (of the industrial civilization waves) establishing” basic conditions” on civil rights and human rights.

“The shortage of ours, that we are responsible to mention here for our comrades… who sincerely wish to help labourers overthrow the yoke of exploiters… for those comrades could help us in an effective way. What we are in lack of for becoming a communist society is the most fundamental conditions for taking actions:

Freedom of press

Freedom of travel

Freedom of teaching and learning

Freedom of meeting (10)

Also on “La Revue Communiste”, Ho Chi Minh had posed the problem of colonial liberation in a new plane. From Karl Marx’s lifetime (1018-83) up to the twenties of XXth century, the common orthodox viewpoint was that the proletary revolution in West Europe and North America’s industrial nations having colonies all over the planet, being the principal subject playing a decisive role in the development process. The victory of revolution in metropolitan countries was prerequisite conditions for the cause of colonial liberation. Clearly recognizing that the weak point of Eastern revolution as well as of Vietnam revolution is the isolation whilst metropolitan capitalist countries being associated in a system, Ho Chi Minh sought for international support and assiduously learnt from many western ideologies of which the Karl Marx doctrine. But with his spiritual luggage, his permanent consciousness on national history and resources as above mentioned, just while seeking for international support from communist and worker’s movements, Ho Chi Minh always persists in his unshakeable faith in the national liberation revolution and advocates that the revolutions in metropolitan countries and in colonies have a mutual impact, the cause of colonies’ revolution does not necessarily wait for the success of revolution in metropolitan countries, moreover it could help western brothers fulfill their task of entire liberation. This strategic vision of Ho Chi Minh had been expressed by a logical affirmation since May 1921 as follows:

“The day when hundreds of millions Asian people massacred and oppressed awaken for abolishing the vile and ignoble exploitation of extremely greedy colonialists, they shall form a colossal force, and while destroying imperialism - one of the “raison d’être” of capitalism, they will be able to help their western brothers in the task of entire liberation” (11).

And from that date of May 1921 up to his death (September, 1969), Ho Chi Minh never left this strategic vision of his for surmounting any upheaval and sinuosity of world situation as well as of himself.


1. William J. Duiker, Ho Chi Minh A life Hype New York, 2000

2. Ho Chi Minh, Complete Works, Edition National political Publishing House, Hanoi 1995 p. 412

3. Phan Thi Minh, Phan Chu Trinh via new documents. Da Nang Publishing House 3.2001

4. Cuu Quoc Journal n°292, 15-7-1946

5. Complete works 1 pp 33-35

6. John Le Van Hoa, Research on national culture basis in Ho Chi Minh revolutionary thought, Northwestern University, Michigan USA 1989 translated by Nguyen Viet Long Edition: Hanoi 2003, p.27

7. The first dialogue realized by Nguyen Truong To generation in the second half of XIXth century. The second dialogue realized by the generation of Dong Kinh Nghia Thuc and Duy Tan scholars in early XXth century.

8. Complete works IV Editions The Truth Hanoi 1981 p100

9. Complete works I 1995 p 464

10, 11 Complete works I pp 33-36.

<span style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: " times="" new="" roman";="" mso-fareast-font-family:="" "times="" mso-ansi-language:="" en-us;="" mso-fareast-language:="" mso-bidi-language:="" ar-sa"="">Source: Yesterday & Today n° 153 12/2003, pp 4-7

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