President Ho Chi Minh was a man of great culture in Vietnam and the world at large. In the treasure of the President’s ideology, viewpoints on culture hold significance and great value, directing and orienting the building and development of Vietnamese culture.
* President Ho Chi Minh’s ideology on culture and national culture building
Through a review of theory and reality, President Ho Chi Minh introduced a concept of culture that for survival as well as the purpose of life, humankind created and invented language, writing, morality, law, science, religion, literature, arts and tools for daily activities in terms of clothing, food, and accommodation, and methods of use. All of these creations and inventions are culture, he added.
President Ho Chi Minh’s conception pointed out both the dynamic and structural origins of culture.
Regarding the position and role of culture, the President called it one of the four important areas for national development, together with politics, economy, and society.
He also highlighted the close links between culture and other aspects of life, saying culture should not be left out but integrated into the economy and politics, and vice versa.
At the first National Cultural Conference in 1946, President Ho Chi Minh stressed that culture lights the way for the nation, and reiterated culture’s role in the 1948 conference, saying culture lights the way for social advancement and progress. His view mirrors a timeless vision, underlining that culture has a leading role in the development of each nation.
National culture building requires that of the spirit of independence and self-reliance, civil rights, economy, and all causes relating to people’s social welfare, according to the leader.
He also called educational development an urgent, strategic, and long-term task which makes Vietnamese people courageous, patriotic, and work-loving, deserving of an independent Vietnam. Therefore, the priority task right after the country gained its independence was launching a campaign against illiteracy.
For art as a part of the culture, President Ho Chi Minh gave basic viewpoints orienting revolutionary art, saying culture with art is also a front. He evaluated the role and position of culture and art in the revolutionary cause as important as that of military, political, and economic fronts.
The late leader also noted that the preservation of relic sites plays a crucial role in national construction. Therefore, only more than three months after the declaration of national independence, he signed and announced Decree No. 65/SL dated November 23, 1945, on ancient relic site preservation across the country, including communal houses, pagodas, temples, palaces, citadels, tombs, steles, objects, degrees, and books.
In cultural building, he laid an emphasis on promoting quality national traditions and acquiring new things from the world’s advanced culture to build a culture of the nation, science, and culture for the masses.
Preserving and upholding traditional cultural identities and values going in tandem with taking in the cultural quintessence of mankind has created a new culture in Vietnam, which both carries traditional characteristics and matches mankind’s civilisation and advancement.
Along with his in-depth cultural ideology, President Ho Chi Minh set a bright example in studying and preserving the traditional values and fine culture of the nation. Notably, he treasured, preserved, and standardised the national language to advance Vietnamese culture.
“Language is a precious generational asset of our nation. We must preserve, treasure, and make it widespread,” he said.
The President’s ideology and views on culture have served as a foundation and a ground for the Party to set a pathway for building an advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity. Specifically, during the Doi Moi (Reform) and the cause of socialist-oriented market economy development and the acceleration of industrialisation, modernisation, and international integration, the Party has been more comprehensively and intensively aware of culture’s role and cultural resource utilisation in national construction and defence.
The 5th plenum of the 8th Party Central Committee in July 1998 issued a thematic resolution on building an advanced culture deeply imbued with national identity. It said culture is the spiritual foundation of the society, the target, and momentum of socio-economic development.
Culture’s role in national development was also summarised in the Platform for National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (supplemented and adjusted in 2011). The platform highlighted the building of an advanced Vietnamese culture deeply imbued with national identity, with comprehensive development, unity in diversity, the spirit of humanity, democracy and progress; making culture closely linked and permeated into the entire social life, becoming a solid spiritual foundation, an important endogenous power for development.
The document of the 13th National Party Congress said: “Taking cultural values and Vietnamese people as the foundation, important endogenous power to ensure sustainable development”; and “Building Vietnamese people with well-rounded development, and closely and harmoniously combining traditional values and modern values.”
The 13th Party Congress identified very new, profound, comprehensive, and breakthrough views and policies on the development of culture and people. They serve as an important direction for the entire Party, people, and army to make new achievements in the cause of building and developing Vietnamese culture and people in the new era.
In the current context of globalisation and extensive international integration, attention to developing cultural and human resources and maximising the country’s “soft power” is one of the most important driving forces to promote sustainable social development, and raising Vietnam’s image and position in the international arena./.