Ho Chi Minh’s thought on Party building and how it is applied in the current context

Director of the Institute of Party Building, Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics - Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics
Thursday, August 25, 2022 10:00

Communist Review - President Ho Chi Minh always focused on building a transparent and strong Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) during his life as a revolutionist. He creatively and developmentally applied the Marxism-Leninism theory of a new-style party of the working class to Vietnamese particular revolution. Consist of great and long-lasting values, his thought on party building continues orienting current Party building.

General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong meeting cadres and people in Vo Mieu, Thanh Son _Photo: VNA

At the age of 15, the CPV led Viet Nam to the successful August 1945 Revolution. Afterwards, the CPV became the only ruling party in Viet Nam. However, inside the Party, there begun to be bureaucracy, adultery, embezzlement, waste, etc., Seriously, individualism could be seen in some "revolutionary mandarins". In this situation, President Ho Chi Minh promptly proposed important policies. One month after the Declaration of Independence, on September 17, 1945, he wrote to cadres in Nghe An; pointing out the shortcomings of local cadres, party members and authorities as well as proposing proper measures. On October 17, 1945, he sent another letter to the People's Committee of all regions, provinces, districts and villages, emphasizing six serious mistakes of officials: illegality, superiority, nepotism, separation and arrogance. On January 18, 1949, at the end of the Sixth Party cadres Conference, he put an emphasis on the "bottom-up reorganization of the government", "reorganization of mass organizations” and “reorganization inside the Party”(1).

In October 1947, President Ho Chi Minh, under the pseudonym X.Y.Z., wrote "Modifying Working Styles" to strengthen the party and transparentize the government. The book fosters courage and political faith among cadres and party members; cultivates revolutionary moral qualities; raises the willpower against individualism and “diseases” arising from individualism. Furthermore, it disseminates leadership methods close to people, respecting people, loving people, wholeheartedly devoting to people's happiness, which encourage cadres to strive to become a true revolutionary soldier. In his will, President Ho Chi Minh advised our Party: "As soon as we win the resistant war against America, rectify the Party”(2).

With its meaningful content, Ho Chi Minh's thought on Party building has precious directional value, profound effects, and various significant lessons that can be applied to the current construction and rectification of the party. These lessons are:

Firstly, the construction and rectification of the party is a regular and continuous task of the CPV.

The leadership of the Party plays an indispensable and decisive part in Viet Nam’s revolutionary victories. The Party's role and revolutionary missions give rise to a need to build the Party in order to maintain and promote the leadership role.

President Ho Chi Minh understood that revolutions revolve around increasingly higher requirements and more demanding tasks. As a result, it is of paramount importance to build a party that does not fall behind those changes. In practice, once a party loses its revolutionary nature, political, ideological, organizational stability, morality and public support, it cannot survive and drive the country forward. Therefore, Party building and rectification is an important and regular task of the CPV. Noticeably, at the turning points of revolutions, the self-correction and self-renewal of the Party could be a matter of life and dead. Moreover, party building and rectification is a must for the self-improvement of the Party, thus being a mission of every cadre and party member. As an answer to the question “Why correction?” President Ho Chi Minh pointed out: our cadres did not have a firm stance and deep knowledge. Consequently, they do not understand the national-democratic revolutionary policy and the long-term policy of resistance and self-reliance. On a international, national and individual scale, they could not differentiate between enemies and friends. Thus, they went down with various “diseases”. Among them is individualism – prioritize individual and family interests over national interests. This major disease gave birth to various others, such as self-interest, fear of difficulties, fear of suffering, workplace anxiety, thirst for power, luxury, embezzlement and bureaucracy, etc(3).

Secondly, Party construction and rectification must be carried out on all aspects as the responsibility of the whole political system.

According to President Ho Chi Minh, Party building and rectification need to be carried out on all four aspects: politics, ideology, organization and morality. Those four categories work hand in glove. Among them, morality plays the key role.

In this light, the moral aspect of Party building must be comprehensive, reflected in all activities on all fields of the Party's work. Besides, the Party's morality is manifested specifically, truthfully and clearly in the morality of each cadre and party member. Therefore, the moral construction of the Party is, first and foremost, building revolutionary moral standards for cadres, party members and party organizations. Standards for cadres and party members are the absolute loyalty to the country, filial piety to the people, steadfastness in the Party's ideals, which are "Diligence, thrift, integrity, righteousness, impartiality"; benevolence, compassion, pure proletarian international spirit, bravery to fight against individualism, etc.

President Ho Chi Minh also stated that, for the effectiveness of Party construction and rectification, the role of the whole political system, especially the State, the Fatherland Front and socio-political organizations, should be fully played. To this end, regular political and ideological education is needed to raise awareness of cadres and party members. Moreover, the Party should mobilize people to participate in Party construction and rectification. He stated: "Be close with people and always listen to people, that is the foundation of the Party's strength and victories. Therefore, separating from people is the key to failure”(4).

Thirdly, Party construction and rectification must be strictly carried out in line with Marxism-Leninism principles of new-style party building.

To become a coherent, unified, strong and genuine Marxist party, the CPV should conform to principles of the new-style party of the working class. President Ho Chi Minh did not only fully understand and creatively apply democratic centralism in building a new-style Marxist-Leninist party, but also supplemented, developed, and clearly showed the nature of its elements and their close link in Viet Nam’s case. According to Ho Chi Minh, the CPV is strictly organized in line with 5 basic principles:

1- Democratic centralism;

2- Collective leadership and individual in charge;

3- Self-criticism and criticism;

4- Strict discipline and self-discipline;

5- Unity in the Party. President Ho Chi Minh considered democratic centralism the Party’s organizational principle, as “the Party is organized in line with the principle of centralized democracy. To be more specific, the Party has its unified chapter, discipline and leadership. Individuals must conform to groups, minority must conform to majority, subordinates must conform to superiors, localities must conform to central organizations"(5). This principle guarantees that despite its large number of members, when operating, the whole Party unifies as just one person. Centralization and democracy do not present opposite approaches. In contrary, they are closely related. Specifically, centralization operates on the foundation of democracy and democracy is under centralized direction. Without centralization, democracy turns into disorganization. Without democracy, centralization becomes authoritarianism and autocracy.

President Ho Chi Minh appreciated self-criticism and criticism as the best medicine and the development law of the Party. To be really effective, he said, self-criticism and criticism must be carried out as regularly and seriously as daily face-washing. It is of great importance that criticism should be a good will instead of a means to undermine other people. Moreover, it is the deeds that need criticizing, not people. In this process, democracy should be maintained, both bottom-up and top-down. He attached great importance to leaders, managerial cadres and party members being brilliant role models, as "an example is worth a hundred speeches"(6). Aiming at solidarity, self-criticism and criticism should be done righteously and cleverly.

Fourthly, the CPV has inherited and applied Ho Chi Minh's thought on Party building for over 35 years of renovation.

Thanks for President Ho Chi Minh's thought on Party building, over the past 92 years, since its birth, the CPV has always focused on Party building, thus maintaining its position and role. The CPV has led people through numerous difficulties and challenges, and gained great achievements of historical significance.

The leadership of the Party is the key to the successful construction and defense of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. However, the CPV is facing several intertwined opportunities and challenges. Therefore, to improve the position and role of the Party, since the 6th Congress, the Party Central Committee has issued 9 resolutions, the Politburo has issued 6 topic-related resolutions on Party building. Resolution No. 12-NQ/TW on January 16, 2012 of the 4th Plenum of the 11th Central Committee about "some currently urgent issues in Party building" stated that some cadres and party members had degraded in political thought, morality, lifestyle, which could be seen in the fading ideals, selfish individualism, opportunism, pragmatism, the seek for fame and fortune, power jealousy, partiality, corruption, luxury and arbitrariness. This situation causes discontent and anxiety among citizens and decreases their trust in the Party, thus being a direct threat to the survival of the Party and the regime. Therefore, the construction and rectification of the Party is currently an urgent issue. After 30 years of renovation, the Party continued to "build a transparent and strong Party, improve the Party's leadership capacity and combativeness, and build a strong political system"(7).

In light of President Ho’ thought, at the 12th Party Congress, moral Party building was brought out, along with politics, ideology and organization, to be among four categories of Party building. Implementing the Resolution of the 12th Party Congress and the working program, the Central Committee issued Resolution No. 04/NQ-TW on October 30, 2016 "on strengthening Party construction and rectification; preventing the deterioration of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, and internal "self-evolution" and "self-transformation”. This resolution shows the Party’s great political willpower and determination in Party construction and rectification under new circumstances.

Thanks for the experience in Party building during the previous term as well as during the Party's development process, the documents of the 13th Party Congress gives new insights into Party construction and rectification, representing a new development in the awareness of Party building. The theme of the 13th Party Congress demonstrates the understanding of comprehensively building the Party in terms of politics, ideology, morality, organization and cadres; of the close relation between Party construction and rectification.

Party construction and rectification should be carried out together and synchronously. Construction is a regular and central task, while rectification focuses on important and urgent issues. Construction going hand in hand with rectification means building a solid foundation while solving difficult, complex and sensitive problems; timely correct mistakes and deviations. Therefore, the CPV can keep its orientation, which is "to be moral, civilized", the representative of the nation's conscience, honor and wisdom, as President Ho expected.

Outstanding achievements in Party construction and rectification during our renovation stem from the proper understanding and application of Ho Chi Minh's thought on the ruling party. Appreciating President Ho Chi Minh's thought and fully understanding practical requirements, the 13th Party Congress brought out core issues and new breakthrough measures in Party building. On the basis of this great political will power, each cadre and Party member, especially those of leading positions, needs to fully grasp and implement the Party's guidelines, the State's policies and laws in work, daily life and relations with citizens. As a result, the CPV can fully put President Ho Chi Minh's thought into practice as well as affirm, apply creatively and fully develop the ideological foundation of the Party to meet the current revolutionary requirements.


(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, vol. 6,  p. 15.

(2) Ibid, vol.15, p. 616

(3) Ibid, vol.5, p. 156

(4) Ibid, vol.5, p. 326

(5) Ibid, vol.8, p. 275

(6) Ibid, vol.1, p. 284

(7) Document of the 12th National Congress, Office of the CPV Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p. 76

This article was published in the Communist Review No. 985 (March 2022)