R Arun Kumar
“IMPERIALISM, capitalism and individualism are the main enemies of the people”, said Ho Chi Minh, whose 125th birth anniversary is being observed on this May 19. Uncle Ho, as he was popularly called, led the Vietnamese struggle against the Japanese and French colonialists and the victorious war of resistance against US occupation. He was a revolutionary who continuously mobilised and organised the masses, believing and inculcating in them a deep confidence in their strength, creativity and potential.
Ho Chi Minh and Vietnamese resistance struggle are still considered as symbols which inspired whole generations of youth across the world, and reared them in anti-imperialism. Ho Chi Minh himself was inspired by Lenin's colonial thesis, which led him to embrace Marxism-Leninism: “Step by step, during the course of the struggle, by studying Marxism-Leninism while engaging in practical activities, I gradually understood that only socialism and communism can liberate the oppressed nations and the working people throughout the world from slavery”.
Synthesising theory with practice, Ho Chi Minh built the Communist Party in Vietnam and led the people to victory against both native and foreign oppressors. He emphasised on training cadre and party members by identifying their virtues. He exhorted them to adhere to revolutionary morality, firmly grasp and apply Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions of their country.
He spoke and wrote in simple language, rich and witty, making good use of proverbs and comparisons. Like his language, he also led a simple and austere life. Never to shy away from difficulties and put on airs, he set an example through his deeds.
Ho Chi Minh lived a life of 'industry, thrift, integrity and righteousness' and taught his comrades to live similarly. He wanted the Party to keep close contact with the masses, respect their views and abide by collectivism and reject individualism. He identified individualism, 'the petty-bourgeois mentality which still lurks in each of us' as the 'third enemy', the first two being capitalism and imperialism. In the battle against these enemies, he urged his compatriots to practice revolutionary morality by, “maintaining one's vigilance, standing ready to fight and refusing to submit, to bow one's head”.
For him, revolutionary morality is indispensable for any revolutionary, who must 'have a solid foundation of revolutionary morality in order to fulfill his glorious revolutionary task'. Revolutionary virtues for him are, not to 'fear difficulties, hardships or failures', not to 'waver or step back', for the sake of the 'interests of the party, the revolution, the class, the nation and mankind'. This, for him, is revolutionary morality.
He extolled communists to set example by being 'simple', 'modest' and ready to face any kind of 'hardships'. Communists should 'worry about work before the others' and think of 'enjoyment after others'. He urged revolutionaries to desist from boasting about 'past achievements and claiming special prerogatives'. Instead, he asked them to think, 'how best to fulfill our task', without thinking about any 'rewards'. He deplored bureaucratism, conceit and deprivation, particularly in a Communist Party.
Ho Chi Minh defines revolutionary morality as: “To observe party discipline and implement party line and policies...To serve the people wholeheartedly...to be exemplary in every respect. To endeavour to study Marxism-Leninism and constantly use self-criticism and criticism to heighten one's ideological standard, improve one's work and progress together with one's comrades”.
Maintaining inseparable links with the masses is also an important element of revolutionary morality. “Revolutionary morality consists in uniting with the masses in one body, trusting them and paying attention to their opinion. By their words and deeds, party and working youth members and cadres win the people's confidence, respect and love, closely unite them around the party, organise, educate and mobilise them so that they will enthusiastically implement the party's policies and resolutions”.
He sternly warned those who belittle the masses. “Claiming to be clever in everything, they stray from the masses, refuse to learn from them and want only to be their teachers...They become infected with bureaucratism and commandism...Before the masses, we won't win their love and esteem by merely inscribing the word 'Communist' on our foreheads. The people only love and respect those with good conduct and morality”.
Ho Chi Minh termed the decline of morality as due to “carrying a backpack of individualism, the worst and most dangerous vestige of the old society”. He called individualism an “internal enemy that resides in our heart and this kind of enemy in the heart is normally more fearsome than the one outside, because he can harm from within...individualism is a harmful bacteria, a major illness, a mother disease that may deliver many other serious diseases which will undermine the revolutionary cause”.
Ho Chi Minh was resolute in his fight against individualism, as he identifies it to be an important corrupting influence. “Individualism runs counter to revolutionary morality. The least remaining trace of it will develop at the first opportunity, smother revolutionary virtues and prevent us from wholeheartedly struggling for the revolutionary cause...Individualism is something very deceitful and perfidious, it skillfully induces one to backslide.
“Because of their individualism, they flinch from hardships and difficulties and sink into corruption, deprivation, waste and luxury. They crave for fame and profits, positions and power, they are proud and conceited, look down on the collective, hold the masses in contempt, act arbitrarily and tyrannically. They are cut off from the masses and from realities, and are affected by bureaucratism and commandism. They make no efforts to improve themselves and don't seek to improve their ability through study...demand enjoyment and rest, and want to pick their own work instead of fulfilling the tasks entrusted to them by their organisation. They want high positions but shirk responsibilities. Their combativeness and energy gradually weaken and so do their revolutionary courage and noble virtues.
“For having not cleansed themselves of individualism some party members still boast of 'their services to the party', for which they claim the party's 'gratitude'. They want to enjoy favour, honour and privilege. If their desires are not satisfied they bear resentment against the party, complaining that they have 'no future' and are 'sacrificed', they gradually drift away from the party, worse still, they sabotage its policies and discipline”.
Ho Chi Minh looked at individualism as a threat to the unity of the party – unity, which is to be safeguarded as the 'apple of our eye'. “Because of their individualism, too, they provoke disunity, and lack a sense of organisation, discipline and responsibility. They do not carry out correctly the line and policies of the party and the state and harm the interests of the revolution and the people”.
According to him, a characteristic feature of individualism is: “they do not like being criticised; they avoid self-criticism or practise it without sincerity and seriousness. They are afraid they might lose face and prestige. They pay no attention to the opinion of the masses, and make light of non-party cadres. They do not realise that it is difficult not to commit any errors in one's work. We are not afraid of possible mistakes, but of failure to correct them resolutely. To redress them, we must listen to criticism by the masses and practise sincere self-criticism. Otherwise we shall lag behind and regress, which will lead to our being cast aside by the masses. This is the inevitable consequence of individualism”.
Ho Chi Minh emphasised that communists, in order to succeed, must be ready to change oneself. “To make the revolution, one must first and foremost re-mould oneself...We should correct our working methods, make them ever more rational and suit them to the present circumstances and avoid formalism and mechanicalness”.
Ho Chi Minh considered study of Marxism-Leninism as, “(to) learn the spirit in which one should deal with things, with other people and with oneself. It means to study the universal Marxist-Leninist truths in order to apply them creatively to the practical conditions of our country. We must study with a view to action. Theory must go hand in hand with practice”.
Ho Chi Minh had a thorough knowledge of the concrete conditions of his country, had a clear-sight of ideology and organisation and immense belief on people. Through his work, he clearly showed that 'revolution was a science, as well as an art'. He was thus a pre-eminent agitator, propagandist and organiser. Ho Chi Minh was a man who followed what he preached. Paying true homage to Uncle Ho means, striving to emulate his life.