Communist Review - The relationship between stability, renewal, and development is one of the ten major normative relationships that have been theorized by the Communist Party of Vietnam. This article clarifies how to guarantee stability and sustainable development of the political regime in Vietnam in the new period.
If movement can be considered an attribute and mode of existence of material things, stability and development can be seen as two states of movement of things and social phenomena. In the political regime, stability and sustainable development are two forms of social movement that indicate the state of movement and encompass the tendency of movement and the quality of development. Stabilizing the political regime is a special form of social movement – movement in order and discipline, ensuring that the structures and functions that constitute the nature of the political regime are maintained and strengthened, avoiding disorder and instability and creating a favorable environment for leveraging social movement upward.
Sustainable development of a political regime is based on quality and ensures that short-and medium-term development management plays the role of consolidating and creating a solid foundation for long-term development. With sustainable development, whether sequential or sudden, political risks are always controlled, and good values are increasingly consolidated and reinforced, making the political regime perpetual. Or as is commonly said, development that meets today’s needs does not compromise the ability to meet the needs of future generations. So the political regime’s sustainable development constitutes national sustainable development.
Sustainable development of the political regime includes the element of stability, which means that it does not cause political upheavals that threaten the interests of all members of society and the country's present and future development. History shows that economic instability can be overcome through short-term or medium-term planning, but overcoming political instability is much more difficult, not only requiring a longer time and greater resources, but also necessitating dealing with a multitude of extremely complex political, economic, cultural, and social problems. Behind political instability is the fracture of social solidarity, where political forces and social classes are caught up in conflicts and wars, that drain national resources and disperse popular support, the country is divided, outside forces interfere in national independence and sovereignty, and development opportunities are missed.
Political stability is always historical – it is regulated by the factors of the era, the polity model, the level of socio-economic development, etc. There is no homogeneity of political stability between multi-party polity and ruling single-party polity, between countries just escaping from colonialism and capitalist-imperialist countries, between defensive countries and countries pursuing an imperialist ideology, and between powerful countries and mid-sized, small, and weak countries. Stability and sustainable development of the political regime is coupled with the level of economic development, because the economy is a pedestal for politics, and politics is the concentrated expression of the economy. No political stability can be divorced from actual and historical conditions.
Stability and sustainable development of the political regime in Vietnam is affected by the following things: (1) A single ruling party and monistic politics, which takes Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thought as the ideological foundation and lodestar for action; (2) A country freed from colonial rule and risen to middle-income status, whose people have a strong will and desire for independence, self-reliance, and development; (3) A country that perpetually confronts external challenges that threaten its independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity; (4) A complex fabric of ethnicities and religions; (5) A geographical position that involves the country in friction and strategic competition between world powers. All five of these things affect the requirements, conditions, and methods of ensuring the political regime’s stability and sustainable development..
In Vietnam political stability is a vital condition for protecting national independence and responding to internal and external challenges. National defense encompasses protecting the socialist regime and maintaining political stability. Hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists are constantly devising conspiracies and plots and conducting activities to sabotage Vietnam’s great national unity, drive a wedge between the people and the Party and the State, incite civil disobedience, cause political instability, and attempt to change the political regime. For Vietnam, political instability means a country in turmoil, public disapproval, ethnic divisions, and social conflicts, which create opportunities for foreign intervention, annexation, and invasion. So stabilizing and sustainably developing the political regime is a strategic national interest during the country’s renewal process. National defense includes ensuring a peaceful, stable environment for national development in which political stability is especially important.
Stability and sustainable development of the political regime in Vietnam can be guaranteed by the following fundamental methods:
First, strengthen the building of a pure, strong Party and political system. This is a decisive factor in ensuring stability and sustainable development of the political regime.
The political regime’s stability and sustainable development are guaranteed by a steadfast adherence to Marxism-Leninism and Ho Chi Minh's thought; steadfastness in the goal of national independence and socialism; steadfastness in renewal; steadfastness in the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the principles of Party organization and operation; and steadfastness in upholding Vietnam’s national interests in accordance with international law. The Communist Party of Vietnam, the ruling party and nucleus of the political system, must be pure, strong, wise, ideologically sound, ethical, upright, strictly-organized, and full of ethical, talented cadres. Focus should be placed on building a truly law-governed socialist state that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people”, capable of managing society, protecting human rights and citizens' rights, and controlling power effectively. It’s necessary to constantly promote great national unity and socialist democracy, use the people's power to benefit the people, and rely on the people to build the Party and political system and ensure stability and sustainable development of the political regime from the "front of the people's heart" and from the people's love and faith.
Second, effectively control the risk of political and state power abuse.
The threat to political stability comes not only from outside, but also from within, through the abuse of political and state power and the decadence of cadres and Party members. It’s imperative to perfect the mechanism of control of political and state power and fight against corruption and negativity.
Power control is exercised by strengthening and perfecting the Party's oversight, inspection, and disciplinary tools; by each organization and individual Party member exercising self-control; by strictly implementing the principles of democratic centralism, criticism, and self-criticism; and by improving governance ethics, practicing public service integrity, and preventing temptation. Power control can also be performed by ensuring that state power is unified, with a clear assignment, close coordination, and effective control among state agencies in the exercise of legislative, executive, and judicial powers; by controlling from within each organ of the political system, and controlling from the outside, and promoting the role of the Fatherland Front and other socio-political organizations and direct public oversight; by using constitutional institutions with sufficient power to protect the public interest (e.g., the State Audit); by limiting power and binding authority with responsibility, such as between the central government and localities, between individuals and groups, between one level and another, and between one term and another; by enforcing the principles of openness, transparency, and accountability of public authorities; by upholding the rule of law and respect for the Constitution and the law by all organizations and individuals; by guaranteeing and protecting human rights and citizens' rights; and by effectively settling complaints and denunciations.
Third, fight degradation in political ideology, morality, and lifestyle and manifestations of "self-evolution" and "self-transformation" among cadres and Party members.
Political instability can arise from the degradation of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle, and manifestations of "self-evolution" and "self-transformation" of cadres and Party members. The deterioration of political ideology not only erodes each cadre and Party member, but also corrupts the organization and undermines the people's trust in the regime. So, in order to prevent the deterioration of political ideology, morality, and lifestyle among cadres and Party members, it is necessary to start by rectifying the Party in terms of political ideology to make the ideological foundation steady, not wobbly nor wavering, in any situation. It’s essential to ensure morals and healthy lifestyles which deserve the people's trust and love. Another key measure is to fight without tolerance against corruption, bureaucracy, misconduct, opulence, and wastefulness. "Self-evolution" and "self-transformation" corrupt cadres and Party members, become "natural allies" of "peaceful evolution", and pose an incalculable danger to the political regime's existence. Hence, it’s imperative to detect ideological degradation early and identify their root cause to prevent, correct, and strictly handle violations, make the Party pure and strong, and eliminate all manifestations of political opportunism, fractiousness, and sectarianism, which cause ideological disorder and organizational division and undermine the unity of the Party.
Fourth, build a national economy strong enough to maintain stability and develop the political regime sustainably.
A stable and developed politics must always have a strong economic base, because politics is a concentrated expression of the economy. At the beginning of the doi moi (renewal) process, the Communist Party of Vietnam identified economic renewal as a central task, aiming not only to bring the country out of the socio-economic crisis, but also to create an economic base for political renewal. Party Politburo Resolution No. 13-NQ/TW, dated May 20, 1988, on "Foreign affairs tasks and policy in the new situation" stated that national defense in the new situation is based on a strong economy, a strong enough national defense, and open international relations. A strong economy is guaranteed by macroeconomic stability and inflation control, has a production base that can meet domestic and export demands, ensures major balances of the economy, and builds economic independence and self-reliance coupled with extensive and effective international integration. Macroeconomic stability is maintained unwaveringly through generating jobs; controlling inflation, the exchange rate, and public debt; ensuring that foreign currency reserves meet demand; achieving high growth; balancing budget revenues and expenditures; using fiscal and credit tools prudently, strictly, flexibly, and effectively; ensuring a balance between supply and demand, export and import, and accumulation and consumption; and maintaining energy security, food security, and the supply chain of essential goods. Only by doing so can the economy grow and be resilient enough to cope with external shocks. A strong economy is reflected in highly competitive domestic enterprises which have effective connection with foreign direct investment (FDI) enterprises, national pride, business integrity, and social responsibility, contributing to solving at the enterprise level problems of salary, corporate welfare, and harmonious relations between employers and employees. It’s important to develop various types of social enterprises, cooperatives, cooperative groups, etc., which have the ability to participate in and proactively solve many social problems, helping to maintain social order, discipline, harmonious development, and stability.
Fifth, build social relations of harmony, solidarity and consensus on the basis of democratic practice and making full use of people's strengths.
The core of this approach is to promote comprehensive social justice, including equal opportunities, development conditions, and distribution of the fruits of production, and equal rights and obligations. There are solutions to bridge the gap between rich and poor; focus on sustainable multi-dimensional poverty reduction; encourage legal enrichment; combat illegal enrichment; expand the well-off class; give priority to remote and ethnic minority areas; gradually reduce the disparity in development levels between regions; build a great national unity bloc based on equality, solidarity, respect, and mutual help for co-development among ethnic groups; ensure freedom of belief and religion and freedom of non-belief and non-religion; promote gender equality; make every effort to rally overseas Vietnamese people; and take care of all-round human development. National unity is based on promoting democracy widely; mobilizing all people's strengths to achieve the goal of a rich people and a strong country with democracy, justice, and civilization; and preventing, fighting, and strictly punishing all acts that divide the great national unity bloc, weaken national strength, or trigger socio-political conflict.
Sixth, build an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity, unity in diversity, and effective resistance to all acts of cultural aggression and threats to socio-political stability triggered by anti-cultural and non-cultural factors.
Consolidating and enriching the national cultural identity in international integration means boosting national cultural power and creating resistance to all acts of cultural aggression. In addition to inheriting and developing the good traditional cultural values of the nation, it is important to select and adapt the cultural essences of mankind to enrich the advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity. In parallel with building strong enough internal cultural resources to create effective resistance is fighting against manifestations of anti-culture, non-culture, and alien lifestyle, which are incompatible with Vietnam’s fine customs and traditions, potentially erode the good traditional values of the nation, and cause social conflict when the cultural foundation is weakened, shaken, or infected by superstitious and toxic ideas.
Stability and sustainable development of the political regime is guaranteed by a culture unified in diversity. Unity in cultural diversity means unifying human hearts so that all people have a deep and full sense of national cultural identity. Stability and sustainable development of the political regime needs a solid cultural pedestal, where ethnic, local, and regional cultural values are respected, and which arouses and enhances the cultural confidence to build a rich, strong country, and contributes to building a national value system, a cultural value system, and a set of standards of the Vietnamese people.
Stability and sustainable development of the political regime are also guaranteed when good cultural and moral values permeate all aspects of social life, starting with leadership culture and ruling ethics, creating a solid spiritual foundation for national construction and defense. When people from all walks of life enjoy cultural well-being, their deep sense of national cultural identity, cultural confidence, and faith in the political system will create internal cultural strength and fill in those gaps that are easily exploited and infected by outside forces, thereby making an important contribution to the stability and sustainable development of the political regime.
Seventh, intensify the protection of national security, social order, and safety, promptly eliminating factors that could cause political instability.
Political instability can result from traditional or non-traditional threats to national security, social order, and safety from external or internal factors. In order to maintain stability and sustainable development of the political regime, it’s crucial to be vigilant and resolutely fight against all conspiracies, plots, and activities that infringe upon Vietnam’s independence, sovereignty, unity, or territorial integrity or threaten national security, whether those activities are armed or unarmed.
Unarmed sabotage methods are frequently used by hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists, which requires us to concentrate our forces and shape our countermeasures appropriately, particularly in the fight to protect the ideological foundation of the Communist Party of Vietnam, refute wrong and hostile views, and protect political and cultural security. Violations of social order, discipline, safety, and people's democratic rights are often used by hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists to incite anti-State sabotage, civil disobedience, large-scale lawsuits, and more, which may cause socio-political instability. Non-traditional threats to the stability and sustainable development of the political regime need to be fully and accurately identified in order to devise appropriate and effective methods to contain them.
To maintain stability and sustainable development of the political regime, it is necessary to protect social order and safety, effectively manage traditional and non-traditional challenges to security and social stability, build a strong people’s hearts and minds posture, and intercept sabotage by hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists.
Eighth, shape mechanisms and methods of conflict resolution, disperse "hot spots", and effectively manage social conflict.
Political instability may stem from social governance incapacity, inability to control conflicts, or lack of mechanisms and methods to manage social conflicts encountered in daily life. Conflicts may erupt between people when they are taken advantage of and instigated by hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists, and may turn into wider socio-political conflicts, making settlement more difficult. Effective conflict management mechanisms and methods must be fine-tuned. It is imperative to improve the system of polling public opinion, assessing social status, measuring social reactions, and correctly identifying the nature of conflicts before deciding on a method of social conflict resolution.
Currently, the problems most likely to turn into "hot spots" are land disputes, environmental pollution, large numbers of people filing lawsuits, and ethnic and religious issues, all of which need to be closely monitored and carefully handled.
Conflicts between people must be detected early and dealt with quickly and effectively. They must not be allowed to spread or turn into socio-political conflicts. Authorities must fine-tune the mechanism for handling social "hot spots"; move quickly to prevent opposing forces from gathering forces against the Party and State; be vigilant to prevent hostile external forces from interfering or tarnishing Vietnam's reputation, image, or foreign relations; and eliminate risk factors for social conflict at the very beginning.
Ninth, uphold the role of foreign affairs in sustaining a favorable regional and global landscape; improve the national reputation and image; control disagreements and conflicts; and maintain a peaceful and stable environment for national sustainable development.
Stability and sustainable development of the political regime is closely related to maintaining a stable strategic environment in relations with the region and the world. Vietnam needs to capitalize on proactive foreign affairs; boost international relations in line with the mantra of diversification and multilateralization; sustain a peaceful and stable environment for development; beef up cooperation with all partners; persistently and resolutely fight against all objects of struggle to protect national interests; prevent or intercept any threat of conflict; and maintain a peaceful and stable environment for national construction and development. It’s imperative to promote the country's global stature; make full use of all favorable international conditions to serve national development; make national development a basis for political stability; resolutely defeat all conspiracies, plots, and activities that interfere in internal affairs or incite riots or subversion; sustain a stable political environment; and protect the regime while bolstering national development and international integration.
This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1003 (December, 2022)