More discussion about the role of culture as an internal driving force and a regulatory system to harmonize the development

The Central Council for Theory and Criticism of Literature and Art
Tuesday, April 19, 2022 10:00

Communist Review - In the development process of each country, the flow of culture, being continuously inherited, supplemented, and adjusted, plays the central role of both an important endogenous driving force and a regulatory system. This is also the view expressed in the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam. Grasping and implementing this viewpoint in an active manner will contribute to the successful implementation of the national development goals and tasks in the coming time.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong with cadres and people of Phat Tich village, Phat Tich commune, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province _Photo: VNA

1- Major cultural contents are not only included in part VII of the Political Report submitted to the 13th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV), but are also presented as an important element in all other parts of the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, from economy to Party construction and rectification; the strategy to 2030, the vision to 2045, the tasks of the next five-year plan (2021 - 2025). That is not only reflected in the formal structure of the documents, but also shows the consistency in the viewpoint of the CPV with its profound thinking on culture: “making culture permeate into every social activities, every individual, every family, every community, every aspects of daily life and human relations”(1)... What is meant is that culture is both itself with rich, diverse and colorful products, and a factor in all areas of life, determining the development level, and the quality and value of man and the entire social life. Thus, cultural requirements and standards must be taken into account as an internal factor, playing a particularly important role in development. The novelty of the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress is that culture is mentioned both directly and indirectly in almost all 12 national development orientations in the period of 2021 - 2030, in which, the fourth orientation has emphasized that the role of Vietnamese culture and people is an internal strength, the most important endogenous driving force for national development: "Developing a comprehensive human and building an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity to make Vietnamese culture and people really become an internal strength and a driving force for national development and defense... Talents, intelligence, and qualities of Vietnamese people are the center, the goals and the most important driving force for national development”(2).

So, what is the implication of this driving force? In practice, this driving force is the strength (mainly spiritual strength), but it is still in latent form and needs to be "activated" before being transformed into physical strength. The August Revolution in 1945, the years of resistance war against the French colonialists, the American imperialists and the period of Doi Moi have given Viet Nam extremely valuable lessons about Uncle Ho’s and the Party’s talent and ability to “activate" the cultural dynamics. The Documents of the 13th National Party Congress of the CPV have clearly stated that: "The important driving force and development resource of the country are to strongly arouse patriotism, the will of national self-reliance, the strength of national unity and the aspiration to develop a prosperous and happy country”(3). The four factors: patriotism, self-reliance, the great national unity, and the aspiration to develop the country are all precious and long-standing traditional cultural values ​​of Viet Nam, which are core values ​​in the cultural value system and the dynamic system created by the Vietnamese culture. This is a highlight and an extremely important thought of the 13th National Party Congress, becoming a new, powerful inspiration and great hope of the entire Party and people. If these factors cannot be aroused and the people's aspirations for national development cannot be promoted, the goal, according to which "by 2045 our country will become a developed and high-income country" will be unlikely to be accomplished. The main force to achieve that goal is the entire Party, the people and the army; however, the generations that perform this responsibility and will continue this duty for the next 25 years (2021 - 2045) are those between 15 and 45 years of age! It means that right now, from the first days implementing the above goal, the Party and political system must take a series of steps as well as creative, flexible and synchronized solutions to open up and arouse the important activators of the above dynamics, especially the young generation.

Culture is an important driving force for sustainable development. Education and training, science and technology must become the direct factors creating the content of such force since according to most universally accepted definitions of culture, education and training, science and technology are part of culture. The Resolution of the 5th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (8th Tenure) "On building and developing an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with national identity" has identified this. Later, due to its importance, it is affirmed as a "top national policy", education and training, science and technology are separated to discuss more deeply, thoroughly and comprehensively. Recognizing the content of culture in the most general and broadest sense, the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress simultaneously emphasized and described the contents in a phrase defining strategic breakthroughs in the new period: “Continue to comprehensively develop human resources, science, technology, and innovation in association with arousing the aspiration for national development, national pride, will to self-reliance and promoting the values of the Vietnamese culture and people”(4).

If viewed from the relationship between inheritance and development, at the 13th National Party Congress, the content of theoretical development and the practical summary of education and training, science and technology showed more achievements. Over the past years, it has shown in practice that education and training, science and technology have not really become the key driving force for socio-economic development. Such situation needs overcoming; therefore, at the 13th Congress, the Party affirmed: "It is necessary to synchronously develop institutions and policies to effectively implement the policy of education and training together with science and technology, and this is the top national policy, the key driving force for national development” (5). There are two requirements set forth, and emphasized many times about these two fields, ie. high quality human resources and talent training and employment. Being evaluated in an objective manner, those are two major issues that have not met the requirements set out in the past time. For the requirements in the new context, in order to achieve the national development goals, education and training together with science and technology need to be the driving force and important development resource of the country, in which “human resources are the most important”. The Documents of the 13th National Party Congress not only continue to emphasize the task of training high-quality human resources, but also set out a new requirement that is “having outstanding policies to attract and utilize both domestic and abroad talents and experts”(6). Also stemming from the above innovative thinking, the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress has repeatedly emphasized the overarching ideology of "rapid and sustainable development based mainly on science, technology, innovation and digital transformation"(7), considering this as the main driving force for economic growth in order to create breakthroughs to improve productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness of the economy. Saying that culture is a driving force for development is a decisive and powerful affirmation of this new guiding ideology of the Party. For Viet Nam, that is an urgent requirement from practice.

So, what must be done so that culture is really an endogenous driving force for national development? Resolution No. 33/NQ/TW, on June 9, 2014, of the 9th Plenum of the Central Committee (11th Tenure) "On building and developing Vietnamese culture and people to meet the requirements of the national sustainable development" reaffirmed the extremely important thought of President Ho Chi Minh that all four factors: economy, politics, culture and society must be equally respected in national construction (that is what sometimes we have not really grasped properly in practical direction). In addition, the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress have determined that one of the three breakthroughs in national development strategy in the coming period is to focus on culture (education and training, science and technology, human resource training, Vietnamese cultural value ​​and human strength promoting, etc.). This is an important guiding ideology, turning cultural potentials into a driving force and power for national development.

As for the issue of Vietnamese people in particular, the first thought that needs to be thoroughly grasped is "focusing on researching, defining and implementing the building of a national value system, a cultural value system and human standards in combination with the preservation and development of the Vietnamese family value system in the new period"(8). At present, more than ever, it is necessary to perform all three stages simultaneously to promote human resources and cultural dynamics in practice. The synchronous development of all specific aspects of culture, combining "building" with "preventing" in a dialectical and regular manner, converging the preeminence and strength of different types of culture for the sake of building people are important solutions to best promote the driving role of culture for national development.

2- When saying that culture permeates into the entire social life, into each person, each family, and each community, it means that values ​​and standards have become self- and inner-needs, the "second instinct" of human. In such way, culture directly and deeply governs all human thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships with the surrounding world, the nature, the society, the community and themselves as well. All are "referenced" from cultural standards to help people live according to the values ​​of truth - goodness - beauty. With that in mind, the regulatory function of culture holds an extremely important position, helping to build and nurture the good, the true, the right, the noble, etc. and contribute to "preventing" the evil, the cruel, the deceitful... The Documents of the 13th National Party Congress does not directly mention this function, but the thought throughout the discussion about culture is to maximize the primacy and regulatory power of culture. That regulation will create harmony in relationships from micro to macro in all aspects of life, in each country and nation. A question raised is why culture has such power and function to regulate development? Where is its scientific, historical and practical justification?

It can be seen that the results of cultural development are always expressed in two main forms of products. Firstly, they are specific products that we can see, hear, directly perceive, enjoy, and the products that change frequently, such as a festival, a piece of music, a picture, a movie, a behavior... In history, mankind in general and each nation in particular, has created countless specific cultural products. Secondly, they are the cultural values ​​from those products, when deeply ingrained in human lives, forming fixed and immutable factors to create the unique traits of a community, a nation. If the surface structure is specific cultural products that are visible, then the deep structure of culture is the value system created in society and in humans. If the concrete keeps changing, arising and developing, then the cultural value system is the root regulating all social activities, maintaining the continuity, creating a stable position and orientating development. This can be considered as two dynamic - static sides of cultural development, in which "the static" (the value system, the cultural norm system) is not only the result of "the dynamic", but it also plays the role of orientating and adjusting the "dynamic" which changes on the surface of culture. Over the course of history, these constants are summed up, supplemented and shaped in the community and human personality, and when it becomes the dignity, the ego, the essence  in human consciousness (or in other words, becoming "the second instinct" in humans), those values ​​and constants have the ability and power to adjust and regulate all human life activities. Hence, in order to have the capacity and power to regulate, along with creating specific, diverse and rich products, culture must penetrate deeply into human life to build values and standards. That is the path and destination of a culture, which both enriches human daily lives and creates values ​​in human personality, becoming the spiritual foundation, having the power to orientate and regulate the sustainable development of society.

When it comes to the spiritual-cultural value system, it is often pointed out at the same time that the important factors in that value system are: political values, scientific values, ethical values, legal values, aesthetic value. Based on these values, it is necessary to develop specific standards to guide and regulate all social and human activities. It is these standards that become the yardstick to regulate development. The most important thing is to make each community, each individual self-consciously aware of good cultural values ​​and standards to self-direct and self-regulate all thoughts and behaviors. That is the result of the regulation through culture, by means of cultural values ​​and norms, we can perceive what is “conforming” and what is “deviant”. Failing to properly handle this relationship will lead to unpredictable harm, not to mention the appearance of "standard disorder" in society when cultural norms and values ​​fall into a situation where they are disregarded or the community and the individual feel confused when choosing the right values. Currently, we are entering a new period with many complicated and unpredictable changes and fluctuations, especially negative impacts from the negative side of the market economy and social transition. At this time, the regulatory role of culture is very important. Cultural standards will help each person make conscious choices, adjust thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and social relationships. People will fall into the bad, the evil, the lowly, the greed, the selfish... if they lack the ability, or even are unable to adjust their behavior and lifestyle. Bad habits, evils; degeneration and metamorphosis of many officials in recent times have clearly demonstrated the serious consequences of culture when in some places, at times, its regulatory role has not been promoted.

The regulatory power of culture are not only effective in the scope of morality, behavior in community relations, human-to-human relations, or in each person themselves, or in creating specific harmony, but it is also effective in adjusting major relations, creating a balanced, harmonious and synchronous development among important fields of life in each country and nation. The Documents of the 13th National Party Congress have identified 10 major relationships, reflecting dialectical laws and core issues of the renovation line that the Party needs to continue to "grasp and handle well"... "absolutely not to be extreme and one-sided"(9). Here, political culture plays an extremely important role. When it is required to handle well, not to be extreme and one-sided, it refers to the regulatory function and capacity of the leadership and leaders when directing to resolve those relationships; not only the method or the art of dealing with problems, but also a high degree of political bravery, expertise, professionalism, cultural level, sensitivity and sanity of the handler are required.

In order to have a deeper understanding about the role of culture in regulating development, it is possible to specifically look at one of the 10 relationships identified by the 13th National Party Congress. That is a new relationship added at the 13th National Party Congress, it is the relationship between practicing democracy and strengthening the rule of law, ensuring social discipline. Handling this relationship in a dialectical manner will create stability and development; on the contrary, when not handled effectively, it will lead to either autocracy, loss of democracy or social disorder because national discipline, permission, and legislation are “overused”. The regulatory role of culture becomes a decisive factor leading to either of the two aforementioned trends. Therefore, this is not just a matter of ordinary behavior but an urgent issue in both political and cultural aspects; it means that this should be handled and resolved at the same time on both political and cultural levels, in which cultural norms must become a factor that harmoniously regulates the relationship between practicing democracy and strengthening the rule of law, ensuring social discipline in the social life of both the community and each individual, the State and citizens. Creating harmony will help people know what to do to make themselves more cultured, become more human, get rid of the uncultured, so as not to disrupt national discipline and law; at the same time, it is required that the State and the administration must practice real democracy, promote the people’s role and mastery.

Thus, it can be seen that the two sides of building and preventing are important solutions to help the regulatory function of culture be promoted effectively. This is reflected in the contents and tasks of cultural construction and development presented in the Document of the 13th National Party Congress. On the one hand, the Document affirms the need to strengthen education on patriotism, national pride, national tradition and history, protecting and promoting sustainable good values ​​in Vietnamese cultural traditions..; on the other hand, it emphasizes the need to implement breakthrough solutions in order to effectively prevent the degradation in morality and lifestyle, repelling social negativity and social evils; step by step overcoming the limitations of Vietnamese people to achieve the goal of "building Vietnamese people of the new era, closely and harmoniously connecting traditional values ​​with modern values"(10); thereby helping to promote the dynamic and regulatory role of culture, contributing to promoting the country’s rapid and sustainable development.


(1) Documents of the 5th Conference of the Party Central Committee, Tenure VIII, National Politics Publisher, Hanoi, 1998, p. 54

(2) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, National Politics and Truth Publisher, Hanoi, 2021, vol. I, p. 115 - 116, (author in italics for emphasis)

(3), (4), (5) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, Sdd, vol. I, p. 34, 220, 136

(6), (7), (8) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, Sdd, vol. I, p. 221 (authors in italics for emphasis), 214, 143

(9), (10) Documents of the 13th National Party Congress, Sdd, vol. I, p. 39, 143

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 975 (October 2021)