From March 28 to March 30, 2018, Nguyen Phu Trong, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, visited Cuba as the head of a Vietnamese delegation. Prior to and during the visit, Cuban newspapers and television news were full of commentaries concerning the historic relation between the two nations as well as on the development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The occasion inspired me to write a long post (“Two heroic peoples in solidarity” 4/16/2018), which included reflections on the evolution of the Vietnamese socialist project. I hope to be able to study this theme further and to write further posts, so these reflections should be taken as preliminary.
I copy here the section of the April 16, 2018 post that reflects on the evolution of the Vietnamese socialist project.
With the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, its efforts at first were dedicated to rebuilding the infrastructure in the wake of the immense destruction caused by the war. Subsequently, Vietnamese socialism has evolved into pragmatic socialism, consistent with the intelligent flexibility that Ho Chi Minh persistently demonstrated. Vietnamese socialism finds space for private capital and investment by foreign capitalistic enterprises, but in accordance with a state plan, and with regulation and control by the state. Its decisive turn toward pragmatic socialism was taken in 1986, with its policy of “renovation,” which has focused on industrialization and the diversification of the economy and its insertion in the world-economy. It has concentrated on the development of human resources, in order to improve competitiveness in a world permeated by technology.
Similar to what we have seen with respect to China (see various posts in the category China), the pragmatic approach to socialism in Vietnam since 1986 has resulted in significant economic growth. From being a net importer of rice, Vietnam has become the second largest exporter of rice in the world. And it has become the world’s largest exporter of coffee, rubber, textiles, and footwear. In the last two decades, more than twenty million persons have been lifted out of poverty. The percentage of children of primary school age attending school has reached nearly 100% percent, and life expectancy has reached seventy years.
In spite of the evident economic and social gains, the Vietnamese Revolution recognizes that there have been social costs of the Renovation. In addressing this issue, the present emphasis is on the total eradication of poverty, the reduction of infant mortality, the reduction of the gap between the rich and the poor, the lending of greater attention to the mountainous zones, the generation of greater opportunities for the most disadvantaged, and environmental sustainability.
In a manner paralleling Vietnam, Cuba also has developed a pragmatic approach to socialism, with fidelity to principles but not with ideological rigidity or ultra-Leftist idealism. . . .
“On the meaning of Vietnam” 04/23/2014;
“Vietnamese empires” 4/24/2014;
“French colonialism in Vietnam” 4/25/2014;
“What enabled French colonialism?” 4/28/2014;
“Confucian scholars and nationalism” 4/29/2014;
“On the charismatic leader” 4/30/2014;
“Who was Ho Chi Minh?” 5/2/2014;
“Ho encounters French socialism” 5/5/2014;
“Ho the delegate of the colonized” 5/6/2014;
“Ho reformulates Lenin” 5/7/2014;
“Ho synthesizes socialism and nationalism” 5/8/2014;
“Ho’s practical theoretical synthesis” 5/9/2014;
“The Indochinese Communist Party” 5/12/2014;
“The Vietminh and the taking of power” 5/13/2014;
“Vietnam declares independence” 5/14/2014;
“France seeks re-conquest of Vietnam” 5/15/2014;
“The French-Indochinese War” 5/16/2014;
“The Geneva Conference of 1954” 5/19/2014;
“South Vietnam” 5/20/2014;
“The National Liberation Front (NLF)” 5/21/2014;
“Construction of socialism in the North” 5/22/2014;
“Agrarian reform in Vietnam” 5/23/2014;
“The failure of US military escalation” 5/26/2014;
“The ideology of anti-communism” 5/27/2014;
“Cold War ideology & US policy in Vietnam” 5/28/2014;
“The teachings of Ho Chi Minh” 5/29/2014;
“The imperialist lesson of Vietnam” 5/30/2014;
“US support for French war of reconquest” 6/5/2014;
“Nuclear weapons and Dien Bien Phu” 6/6/2014;
“Revolutionary sacrifice” 6/9/2014.