The relationship between economic progress and human development in vietnam under Ho Chi Minh’s Thought - Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen

Nguồn trích dẫn:

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen (2022), The relationship between economic progress and human development in vietnam under Ho Chi Minh’s Thought, Universum: Social Sciences, № 7 (86), pp. 22-27, DOI: 10.32743/UniSoc.2022.86.7.14057, ISSN 2311-5327.

DOI - 10.32743/UniSoc.2022.86.7.14057


President Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam attach great importance to the relationship between economic progress and human development. However, before the Doi Moi, the outlook of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the actual situation had downsides and limitations. Therefore, since the Doi Moi, the Party and the State of Vietnam have highly valued the position of the people and considered human development the ultimate goal of socio-economic development. In the current development of the market economy, it is vital to have solutions to resolve the above relationship more effectively.


Президент Хо Ши Мин и Коммунистическая партия Вьетнама придают большое значение взаимосвязи между экономическим прогрессом и человеческим развитием. Однако до появления комплексной программы Дой Мой, мировоззрение Коммунистической партии Вьетнама и фактическая ситуация имели свои недостатки и ограничения. Поэтому, Партия и государство Вьетнам стали высоко ценить позицию народа и считать развитие человеческого потенциала конечной целью социально-экономического развития с появлением программы Дой Мой. В условиях нынешнего развития рыночной экономики жизненно важно быть готовыми принимать меры для усовершенствования отношений.


Keywords: Ho Chi Minh, the Communist Party of Vietnam, economic development, human development, relationship.

Ключевые слова: Хо Ши Мин; Коммунистическая партия Вьетнама; экономическое развитие; человеческое развитие; взаимоотношения.


Introduction. During the implementation of the renewal process, the Party highly valued the position of the people and considered them both the driving force and the goal of social development. All policies for socio-economic development are geared towards the ultimate goal, that is, human development. The document of the 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam stated: “Making the Vietnamese develop comprehensively, with good health, capacity, qualifications, and a high sense of responsibility for themselves, their families, society, and the nation” [2, p. 213].

The relationship between economic progress and human development is also one of the main contents of the theory of Karl Marx. That concept has been creatively applied by President Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam in the cause of national construction. However, in the context of the development of the market economy and international integration, implementing this policy is facing challenges and requires further research in both theoretical and practical aspects.

1. Ho Chi Minh’s thought on the relationship between economic progress and human development in Vietnam

1.1. Overview of Karl Marx’s concept of the relationship between economic progress and human development - Theoretical basis of Ho Chi Minh’s thought on this issue

Karl Marx’s theory arose in Western Europe during the first part of the nineteenth century when capitalism had progressed to a new level due to the industrial revolution. The increase in labor forces had given a necessary material premise for social and human development. However, the development of the economy pushed the workers and the bourgeoisie into a state of unhappiness and corruption. Through philosophical methodology, Karl Marx studied capitalist commodity production in-depth and found the primary law that governed production: the law of surplus-value. His studies explained the relationship between economic development and social development, whose profound goal was human development.

When studying economics, Karl Marx applied the achievements of British classical political economists, such as Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who had researched the capitalist economic system and initiated the labor theory of value. After that, he provided a solid scientific basis for the labor theory of value through his complete philosophical worldview. The British classical economists only saw the relationship among things in the process of exchanging goods, but Marx perceived a relationship among individuals. Therefore, he linked the economic field to society and people. In the exchange of goods, the market was the intermediary between the individual producers. In capitalist commodity production, labor power became a commodity. Employees worked for capitalists and owners of the means of production to get wages to support themselves and their families. The rest that they did for free created surplus value for the capitalist. This was the source of profit and wealth for the bourgeoisie. Lenin stated Karl Marx’s law of surplus value: “The theory of surplus-value is an important part of Marx’s economic theory” [16, p. 55].

Capitalist production created a large number of unemployed people in both industry and agriculture. From this economic consequence, Karl Marx realized the change in society. With the goal of raising profits, the bourgeoisie constantly expanded the scale of production. Although production was increasingly socialized, the product belonged to the capitalists. The race for the market with cyclical crises and anarchic manufacturing had made workers’ lives insecure and caused instability in society. The bourgeoisie prolonged the working day or applied industrial machinery to continuously lift the surplus value and shorten the required labour time. They made the workers dependent on capital but brought the cohesion of a large social force, creating a powerful force that could overthrow capitalism: the proletariat.

Karl Marx’s economic studies were not aimed at knowing but were the basis for him to associate it with the social and human fields. He analyzed to point out the “non-human” nature of socio-economic relations in capitalism. He thought that in the capitalist system, workers were corrupted entirely. In his work “The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844,” he paid attention to critical social problems associated with economic ones. He made it clear about degenerate labor in capitalist production. Accordingly, as the owner of capital, the capitalist bought workers’ labor power and owned their products. In that context, “the value of a worker was reduced and he was like a commodity, the most pathetic one. His poverty was proportional to the strength and size of his output. Finally, society was inevitably divided into two classes: owners and not being owners” [14, p. 89-90]. In this work, capitalists’ exploitation of surplus value hasn’t been discovered, except for the brutal nature of the capitalist private property regime reflected in the alienation of labor. According to the analysis of Marx, alienation in the economic sectors led to the corruption of human essence. This was expressed in people’s separation from human nature and the estrangement between people. Later, he pointed out that not only the working class but the bourgeoisie and other classes in capitalist society were also corrupted. Thus, workers’ material and spiritual life was dominated by the economy and bourgeois private property in a capitalist society. With the antagonistic division of labor, worker one-sidedly developed and was intrinsically alienated. Karl Marx stated that this alienation was not permanent since it and capitalist private property regime would be eliminated together. He said that the bourgeoisie “played a revolutionary role in history” [12, p. 599]. The class overthrew the feudal, patriarchal, and peasant relations, which were complex and bound to human beings, and “created productive forces greater than ones of all previous generations” [12, p. 603]. The development of productive forces in capitalism had created an essential material premise for human and social growth. All ideals were just illusions without that premise. However, the rapid development of productive forces and the economy made contradictions more acute. “Modern bourgeois society, with the relations of production and exchange as well as the bourgeois ownership relationship, have produced powerful means of production and trade. However, now, it is like a witch, no longer strong enough to control the ghost soldiers she has summoned. For decades, the history of industry and commerce is the one of the revolt of the modern productive forces against the ownership determining the existence and domination of the bourgeoisie” [12, p. 604]. Therefore, conflicts in the economy had led to social conflicts. As a result, it forced people into a state of unhappiness and inhibited the free and comprehensive development of the human being. From those analyzes, Karl Marx indicated the necessity of a revolution to abolish a society in which economic and social relations became external, and alien, as well as dominated the people. Revolutionary violence, in this case, was also an economic potential to promote social growth toward a classless society, in which people could live in their true nature, be free, and develop comprehensively. Karl Marx considered human liberation, inclusive human development, and the “evolution of human nature” “the end in itself” of social progress [13, p. 168]. He also pointed out the relationship between the enlargement of productive forces and people’s release and all-round development. The progress or substitution is not to advance or replace, but for the sake of human beings and the “rich development of human nature.” The “increase of social production” tending to prosperity and a better life for each member and the whole community was the only direction to lift social production and create good people. According to the concept of Marxist classics, the advancement of productive forces and the economy led to the replacement of socio-economic forms. “They themselves don’t reflect the progress or non-progress. The development or replacement here is not just for development or replacement, but for the sake of human beings and the “development of human nature” [11, p. 101]. Thus, advancing the economy for social growth is aimed at the ultimate goal of comprehensive human development.

1.2. Ho Chi Minh’s thought on the relationship between economic progress and human development in Vietnam.

During his life, President Ho Chi Minh paid special attention to people in the link between economic growth and social development. It can be seen that He is deeply influenced by Marxist-Leninist principles on people. “Since the early 20s of the last century, Nguyen Ai Quoc has considered Marx’s lofty philosophical views on human liberation the motto and principle for Le Paria newspaper” [15, p. 194]. During his revolutionary career, He identified the relationship between human liberation and national one, and the second thing was the relationship between human liberation and human development, both morally and intellectually. Although He did not build a philosophy on economic and human development, He demonstrated the relationship between economic growth and human development in thought and actions. He emphasized: “Humans need food and clothing because they are essential things to survive and thrive.” If we want to rule the people, we must make them well off. There is a saying: “It’s no use preaching to a hungry man” [6, p. 572]. This sentence is simple and easy to understand but contains a profound philosophy, which is derived from the nature of human beings, about ensuring living materials for their existence and development. According to Ho Chi Minh, production development was for the people’s back and belly. Besides, He stated the responsibility of the Communist Party for life of the people. After reading the Proclamation of Independence, He set out the things that needed to be implemented:

“We must

Help the people have food

Help them have clothes to wear

Help them have a place to live

Give them the learning opportunity.

Our purpose is to fulfill the above four things. We shall make the people worthy of independence and let them contribute to establishing freedom” [6, p. 152].

After Northern Vietnam started the construction of socialism, Uncle Ho focused on increasing production and practicing thrift: “Our most critical task is to build the material and technical foundation of socialism. Modern industry and agriculture, as well as advanced culture and science, are required. In the socialist revolution, we have to reform the old economy and build a new one. Construction is the primary and long-term duty” [8, p. 13]. When expanding production, we had to respect human power. Ho Chi Minh considered people a significant resource for economic growth towards social development and justice. Human was of the highest value in all the values created by socialism. To show the relationship between economic growth and the goal of human development, He emphasized creating material conditions to improve each person’s life and promote each individual’s personality and forte through reasonable economic and social policies. At the Conference of the Politburo on July 30th, 1962, He said: “We shall find a way to solve the problem of the masses’ back and belly and not let them be too stressful. It’s indispensable to form factories, but things we shall focus on are the people and their excitement. It is vital to do everything for people’s sake and to help them comprehend socialism correctly” [5, p. 272].

In the Will, Ho Chi Minh wrote that after the resistance war against the US was completed, the country would enter a period of economic recovery and socio-economic development under the socialist direction, and “the first duty is the works for people” [9, p. 503]. In Ho Chi Minh’s thought, people were put first in the process of national construction and economic growth to improve their quality of life. Besides, He paid attention to fostering people both in talent and virtue and considered it a criterion that made a person grow comprehensively. He wrote: “having talent without virtue is like a person who is good in economics but takes a rake-off. Thus, he not only does not do anything useful but also does harm to society. Possessing virtue without talent is like a Buddha who does no harm but is not good for humans” [7, p. 172].

2. The relationship between economic growth and human development in the revolutionary cause of Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh’s thought on the link between economic progress and human development has been inherited and developed by the Communist Party of Vietnam since the Doi Moi. Our government followed the model of socialism with centralized planning and bureaucratic subsidy mechanism during the pre-renovation phase when Northern Vietnam established socialism following the August Revolution, and the country was unified from 1975 to 1986. The Party had given the goal of “abolishing private ownership of the means of production, eliminating exploitation and the bourgeoisie, implementing the public ownership of the means of production, advancing production from a backward to a modern level, and making the working class permanently out of poverty” [17, p. 51] to practice socialism in Northern Vietnam. According to that direction, in terms of economy, Northern Vietnam conducted tasks such as abolishing private property, establishing public ownership of the means of production in both state and collective forms, carrying out socialist industrialization in the direction of rationally prioritizing the development of heavy industry, and expanding agriculture and light industry to move up to socialism. Accelerating agricultural cooperation was the policy rapidly implemented via various methods, including propaganda, advocacy, organization, and coercion. As a result, by early 1960, “Northern Vietnam has gathered 85.8% of the total number of households with more than 78% of the total cultivated area given into low-level agricultural cooperatives” [15, p. 206]. To quickly realize a high level of collectivization regarding land and labor power of farmers, the Party and State accelerated transforming agricultural cooperatives from low to a high level. Farming households had minimal land to do household business. Thanks to that, “over 90% of farming households joined cooperatives, of which 72% of households joined advanced cooperatives” [15, p. 207]. Although the State’s investment in agriculture and rural areas increased significantly, labor productivity was very low. In industrial production, we also renovated industry and commerce. Many industrial zones were established thanks to the help of other socialist countries. However, like in agriculture, productivity and production quality were poor due to inadequacies of the management level, centralized economic institutions, and bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy and embezzlement appeared and expanded in many places, causing a low economic efficiency. As a result, we had to ask the socialist countries for food aid and other goods to meet the fundamental needs of the people. It was evident that if the economy was underdeveloped, the country was not self-sufficient to ensure the existence and development of the people. After the 1975 spring offensive, the nation unified and moved toward socialism. Although many economic policies revealed shortcomings, we still maintained the previous mechanism in which the economy operated under the State’s control over factors of production as well as income distribution. The leaders were subjective and acted at their discretion in socialist reform and construction. Theoretically, we thought that it was necessary to build an advanced production relation to promote the development of productive forces. Therefore, from 1976 to 1980, we “progressively developed the state-owned economy, suppressed collectivization, denied the autonomous role of the cooperative’s members, and discriminated against the private economy and individuals” [4, p. 18]. The above economic policies failed to solve the needs of the people and destroyed the creative capacity of workers. Before Doi Moi, we were interested in economic development, but introducing policies without careful consideration led to many consequences. We did not solve problems related to people and society. Moreover, in building socialism before Doi Moi, issues related to community and people were not usually paid attention to. The Party and State insisted that they cared about people. In fact, obligations and responsibilities were focused on, while human rights were not. “We have considered people the driving force of economic development rather than the goal of social development. Each individual’s life is sunk and dissolved in the life of the collective and society” [15, p. 214].

Urgent requirements forced the Party to innovate from thinking to action. At the 6th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (1986), the Party severely self-criticized many inappropriate policies in socio-economic and human development and set out a comprehensive reform. In terms of economy, we made the economic transition from a mechanism in which the economy operated under the State’s control to a multi-sector commodity economy operating under the market mechanism with the management of the State following the socialist orientation. In terms of society, we had promoted social democratization as well as the human factor and considered serving the people the top goal of all activities. The document of the 6th National Congress only identified the relationship between economic growth and social development. Conditions for economic growth were material ones for implementing social policies, but the social goal was the purpose of economic activities. At the 7th National Congress, combining economic growth with human development was proposed. The goal of social development was consistent with economic growth because they both aimed to promote the power of the human factor and for the benefit of people. There was a harmonious combination between economic growth and socio-cultural development, economic growth and social progress, as well as the material life and spiritual life of the people.

The 8th National Congress continued to add principal views on combining economic growth with social progress and justice for human development: “Economic growth must be associated with social progress and justice in every step and throughout the development process. Social justice must be reflected in the distribution of means of production, production results, and creating conditions for everyone to develop and use their capacities” [2, p. 113].

Besides the above guidelines for socio-economic development, Party and State have focused on promoting industrialization and modernization since the 1990s of the 20th century. This task is to advance the economy and society, aiming to develop the Vietnamese.

Combining economic growth and human development was a consistent view since Doi Moi. At the 13th National Congress, developing the economy, aiming at “fast and sustainable development of the country,” was highlighted.

The Party stated: “It’s crucial to maximize the human factor and consider people the most important subject, resource, and development goal. Cultural values and the people must be considered the foundation and key endogenous strength” [3, p. 215-216].

Besides promoting economic progress, educating, fostering, and developing humans became new duties, “showing the Party’s deeper awareness of the important role and significance of education and training for Vietnamese people to develop comprehensively, balance their material and spiritual lives, and harmony between economic needs and life, morality and culture” [1, p. 168].

The document of the 13th National Congress required clearly defining the goals of education and training in the next period to make the Vietnamese develop entirely. In particular, the association of knowledge, moral education, aesthetics, and life skills with physical education to raise the stature of the Vietnamese, serving national construction and defense was also noticed.

Along with the renovation policy for economic development, the 13th National Congress focused on encouraging cultural values and the strength of the people. The National Congress stated the following tasks: “Focusing on researching, identifying, and developing the national value system, a system of cultural values, and human standards associated with preserving and thriving the family value system in the new period. Paying attention to the education, training, and protection of children and teenagers. Strengthening education on patriotism, pride in the nation’s traditions and history, as well as a sense of social responsibility for all classes, especially the young. Implementing breakthrough solutions to prevent moral degradation and repel social evils effectively.

Protecting and promoting good and sustainable values in Vietnamese traditions and culture. Boosting education and raising awareness and sense of respect and observance of the law, the environmental protection, and cultural preservation of the Vietnamese, especially the young generation. Gradually limiting the weakness of Vietnamese people, making them develop in the new era via closely and harmoniously combining traditional and modern values” [3, p. 143].

In addition to policies and measures on economy, society, education, and training, the 13th National Congress of the Party affirmed the role of science in human resource development. The Party pointed out: “Social sciences and humanities, and political theory have made a great contribution to providing arguments for forming strategies, protecting and building the ideology of the Party, establishing and developing Vietnam’s economy, culture, society, and people, as well as defending the nation” [3, p. 63-64].

It could be seen that, theoretically, the Communist Party of Vietnam linked economic growth with human development, in which economic growth was the foundation for the goal of comprehensive human development. People were the center, paramount resource, and the purpose of development, and development for people was the direction of sustainable national development. Being led under that theory, we have achieved remarkable achievements after 35 years of implementing the Doi Moi process. From a poor and underdeveloped country, Vietnam has become a country with average GDP and impressive attainments in poverty reduction. The human development index of Vietnam is higher than the economic indicator and has been maintained throughout the past time. In 2020, “It is the first time Vietnam has ranked among 52 countries with a high human development index” [10].

The limitations in economic growth and human development were also paid attention to by society. The alienation, moral and cultural degradation, and social deviance became more pressing. It caused people’s trust in the Party to decline. In the context of the market economy, wealth was revered, but the way to get rich reasonably was looked down upon or undervalued. The economic institution and social mechanism had prevented workers from being adequately paid in the public sector. Moreover, the poor management of the State was one of the causes leading to corruption and moral degradation.

We are expanding a market economy in the context of international integration. Besides advantages, it brings challenges, such as issues on improving the quality of human resources to meet the requirements of economic development in Industry 4.0 or promoting the good values of the nation when developing people with receiving global culture. The phenomenon of value deviation in culture is happening, and the implicit values of social life are creating evils and uncontrollable inequalities.

To link economic growth with comprehensive human development under the Party’s viewpoint, it is better to focus on the following issues.

Firstly, it is to build a system of Vietnamese family values to form and develop a human personality. Based on the content of the 13th National Congress, building a family value system plays a prominent part in human development. It aims to perfect each individual and protect and develop the national-cultural identity. The family will give people the upbringing and first education and follow them during their lives. Thus, the family’s education is indispensable in shaping a person’s personality. According to some researchers, the family value system includes many values, but the important ones are safety, prosperity, and responsibility.

Secondly, it is to develop a national value system to have an orientation, helping individuals follow. According to the Party’s view in the Platform for National Construction in the transitional period towards socialism (amended and supplemented in 2011), national values include wealthy people, a strong nation, democracy, justice, and civilization. At the 13th National Congress, the Party focused on “arousing the aspiration to develop a prosperous country, the will to be self-sufficient, and promoting the strength of the national unity bloc to build and defend the Fatherland” [3, p. 215].

Lastly, it is to build a cultural value system orienting personal values. Cultural values are important resources of every country and are considered human values. These values have been identified and generalized into a value system with notable characteristics such as patriotism, diligence, creativity in work, and solidarity.

Conclusion. In the Doi Moi, the Party and State are always concerned with human issues because people are considered the driving force and goal of development. Despite many downsides, we believe that with the determination of the Party and State and the consensus and support of the people, linking socio-economic growth with human development will be performed well.



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 Информация об авторах

Nguyen Thi Thanh Huyen
Assoc. Prof. Ph.D. philosophy, lecturer, Faculty of Philosophy, VNU University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam, Hanoi

Нгуен Тхи Тхань Хуэйен
доцент, профессор, доктор философии, Преподаватель философского факультета, Социально-гуманитарный университет ВНУ, Ханой, Вьетнам - Thư mục tài liệu Khoa học Xã hội và Nhân văn.

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