Le Duan

On The Socialist Revolution In Vietnam Volume 1

Revolution Is The Work Of The Masses[1]


Since human society exists its history is made and constantly pushed forward by the masses. No great event nor revolutionary change in society is possible without the active participation and support of the masses.

But the decisive role of the masses was not realized from the outset. Out of their own interests the exploiting classes blurred the historical role of the masses whom they looked upon as dunces. Formerly due to their own class viewpoint and historical conditions, philosophers could not correctly realize the role of the masses whom they regarded just as negative or passive elements at the talented men’s beck and call. This wrong viewpoint led former historians to record only the feats of individuals, heroes, kings and mandarins, or well-known generals, overlooking the role of the masses.

It was not until the birth of Marxism thousands of years after that the masses were recognized as makers of history. This discovery, Marx’s important contribution, was made possible by the whole process of objective historical development during which the rote of the masses became more and more conspicuous. When making the anti-feudal revolution the bourgeoisie had to seek the participation of the masses, who then began to be conscious of their own force and of the political struggle; after this revolution, they also won some democratic rights in many forms, thus drawing every one’s attention to their role.

Simultaneously with the emergence and development of the great capitalist industrial production, the proletariat also came into being and grew ever stronger. The centralized labour and the struggle for daily interests, the organizational spirit, discipline and solidarity in fighting tempered in factories have gradually made the proletariat realize their huge strength and also the role of the masses. On the other hand, the more developed the capitalist society, the more acute the contradiction: the annihilation of capitalism and the certain victory of socialism are unavoidable, thus making the proletariat ever conscious of their own role and historical mission, and act more actively to impel the natural evolution of history.

The proletariat is the first class in the history of mankind to have correctly realized the huge force of the masses, and it is Marxism only, the theory of the proletariat, which can scientifically express the historical creative role of the masses.

Since there was a correct notion on the role of the masses and after it gripped hundreds of millions of people, history has changed with an unimaginable rapidity, the positive spirit and the revolutionary creativeness of the masses have shown themselves most powerful, the period of historical development has been shortened, especially in the revolutionary periods when one day is worth twenty former years. The Russian October Socialist Revolution first brought the masses to the position of masters of their own fate. And only forty years after this revolution, socialism has become a world system with over one-third of the population and over one-fifth of the territory of the globe. This is an unimaginable rapid leap in history, compared with the 150 years or 200 years capitalism had to take before it has become a world system. And if we take into account that the appearance of capitalism only aims at replacing an exploiting class by another, while the regime of exploitation of man by man itself relied upon private ownership of means of production remains unchanged, whereas socialism must wipe out the exploiting regime and that of private ownership of means of production established since thousands of years, and set up the regime of social ownership of means of production in so short a period, we see more clearly the strength and extraordinary creativeness of the masses once they realize that they must rise up to make their own history. Lenin said that revolution is a great festival of the oppressed and exploited people. Never are the people so active in creating the new social system as in the revolutionary period. In such a period, people can do wonders.

Our millenary history has also proved the decisive role of the masses. For more than one thousand years our country was invaded and ruled by foreign feudals and our people had struggled heroically against the aggressors. The glorious deeds of two Trung Sisters,[o] Heroin Trieu[p], Ly Thuong Kiet[q], Tran riung Dao[r], Le Loi[s], Quang Trung[t], etc. were also those of our people, but in our history the role of the masses was also overshadowed, and the masses themselves were not fully aware of their own strength. The dynasties which succeeded one another were precisely decided by the masses, but on the upshot it was the latter which were oppressed, despised, and considered as dunces.

In the period when our country was invaded by the French imperialists, many Vietnamese patriots called upon the masses to rise up and fight for independence, but they regarded them just as passive people and could not realize that the success of the national liberation was the fruit of their work. An important factor of the failure of various patriotic campaigns was that these patriots did not correctly see the decisive role and impact of the masses in the imperialist era.

Only with the founding of the Indo-Chinese Communist Party, based on Marxism-Leninism and the practical study of the Vietnamese history, could the Vietnamese communists correctly assess the role of the masses. For the first time in our history our Party has pointed out: "The revolution is the work of the masses to liberate themselves, no hero can save them; only by raising their consciousness, organizing and uniting themselves under the leadership of the vanguard unit of the working class — the Indo-Chinese Communist Party — can they liberate themselves. The Party’s revolutionary programme which was set forth in 1930 to overthrow the imperialists and feudals. establish the worker-peasant-soldier soviet power, and distribute land to the peasants, voiced confidence in and determination to rely upon the masses.

Facts have proved that though our economic development lagged behind imperialist France for hundreds of years, we succeeded in relying upon the immense and inexhaustible force of the masses, awaking their revolutionary positiveness, to speed up our advance by leaps and bounds. In a relatively short period we overthrew imperialism and the feudal power, liberated half the country and are taking it gradually to socialism, a higher stage of development, much more equitable, rational and beautiful social system than capitalism. Had it not been for the correct mass viewpoint, and the leadership according to the Party’s mass line we could not win such great and rapid a victory.


Marxism-Leninism assesses that the history of mankind is that of a succession of methods of production, and of the producers and labouring people. To say that the masses create history is fundamentally to speak of the toiling masses.

In each historical stage the toiling masses differ from one another, therefore the contents of the conception of the masses also changes accordingly.

Under the millenary feudal regime the toiling masses were mainly peasants, the basic productive force of the society at that time.

Since the invasion of our country by the imperialists, in Vietnam, a colonial and semi-feudal country, the toiling masses consisted essentially of workers and peasants, with the latter accounting for the over- whelming majority. Therefore in the national-democratic revolutionary stage led by the Party the most fundamental prop for the struggle against French imperialists and reactionary feudals was but the peasants, a force which makes up 90 per cent of the population of our country.

The 1930 uprising to set up a soviet power in Nghe An was essentially an insurrection of peasants; the biggest force participating in the 1936-1939 democratic movement was also the peasants ; the Nam Ky, Bac Son, etc. uprisings were fundamentally waged by the peasants; the founding of the Viet Bac free zone and the Vietnam Armed Propaganda Unit for National Liberation relied on the peasantry and the country- side; the August 1945 general insurrection to seize power was an uprising of the entire people, but the main force was the labouring people, and the great majority of them were peasants. Our protracted Resistance War which lasted nearly nine years was basically a guerilla warfare waged by the peasants, with the countryside as the mainstay and base from which to encircle the towns, and the peasants contributing the greatest part of manpower and wealth to the Resistance War.

Realizing this great force our Party has assessed that the peasants were the main force of our national democratic revolution which was essentially a revolution of the peasants, under the leadership of the proletariat and its party.

As our Party stood firmly on the proletariat’s mass standpoint it could clearly realize the broad mass character of our national democratic revolution. Our country was dominated and lost its independence, therefore every patriotic Vietnamese who approved of national independence could join the anti-imperialist force. On this national basis, we succeeded in establishing a broad unified national front including all classes, strata and patriots. The front was founded in the interest of the revolution, of the nation and also of the grassroot toiling masses. For the success of the revolution the grassroot masses could not be let alone but must have as many allies as possible, and even temporary and wavering ones must be won over. Experience has shown that only when the worker- peasant force is strengthened could we set up a firm unified national front. Inversely, if it was not strong the other strata of the people did not follow it, or wavered.

But the content of our revolution is not only national but also democratic. The aspiration of the masses, first of all the grassroot ones, was to be liberated from the imperialist and feudal yoke in order to improve their livelihood. To them patriotism means the safeguard of the existence of the nation and also of their own existence and welfare. Regarding the overwhelming majority of our people — the peasants — their dearest aspiration was to have land, and to be freed from slavery, humiliation and misery. The peasants enthusiastically took part in the revolution as they were conscious of having land once the country had been independent. It is to satisfy this requirement that they have followed the proletariat and firmly built the worker-peasant alliance under the leadership of the working class, through its Party — the Indo-Chinese Communist Party.

Without democratic rights the force of the masses could not be fostered, first of all the grassroot ones and the unified national front could not be consolidated. It is precisely to foster the most basic force of the revolution and the resistance — the peasantry — that we carried out land reform during the Resistance War to satisfy the peasants’ requirements and bring the Resistance War to victory.

In short, only by standing on the class standpoint and mass viewpoint of the proletariat can we see clearly the strength of the masses, realize that the peasantry is the main force in the national democratic revolution, and grasp the class content in this revolution.


At present North Vietnam is gradually advancing to socialism. The revolution now underway is the most profound and greatest revolution in history. We must abolish the economy based on the exploitation of man by man, turn the scattered individual economy into a socialist collective one; build and develop the socialist economy unceasingly to improve the labouring people’s living conditions and make our people advance to a happier life.

The socialist revolution requires the development of the positiveness and the extraordinary creativeness of the toiling masses which are the most basic productive force of society. To this end, we must free the mind of millions of people formerly tied up within the narrow framework of small production and private economy, and transform the individualist and selfish ideology of the strata of people who lived on exploitation. We must build a new ideology, the socialist ideology, making it gain supremacy in society and become a strong mover to impel the toiling people to transform society, nature and themselves.

Such a revolution cannot succeed if it is not made by the conscious masses with a bold revolutionary spirit.

Therefore, first of all the toiling masses must seize power and use it as the main tool to transform the old economy and production and build new ones. We must grasp the class viewpoint in the setting up of power, see to it that power really belongs to the toiling masses, who will directly manage the state machinery and the economic and cultural-structures of society and turn these organizations into revolutionary organizations of the toiling masses and into means to serve the productive labour of the masses and their interests. It is wrong to think that the organizations of the state machinery can replace the masses who have to act on orders from upper level only. Every line, guiding principle, policy as well as the working method of the state organs which do not accord with the toiling masses’ interests will create difficulties to the socialist revolution in the North, and can harm the common revolutionary work throughout the country. Therefore, the leading cadres of our Party and state organs imust realize the interests of the toiling masses, form a solid bloc with them, and proceed from their interests and common work to set forth the lines and policies and solve the inner contradictions likely to arise between the state interests and those of the masses. Only by so doing can we mobilize the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses and push forward socialist revolution.

* *

The toiling masses in socialist revolution are first of all the working class.

The socialist revolution in Vietnam as well as in all the countries throughout the world, must first and foremost rely upon the force of the working class, the most progressive and revolutionary class within the masses, the class the most representative of socialism, leading the socialist revolution and construction. Without the working class standpoint and ideology we cannot understand socialism. At present, human society has only two paths: capitalism and socialism respectively represented by the bourgeoisie, and the working class.

The position of the working class is established not only in the political and ideological fields, but mainly in the economic field; the working class is the master; of enterprises, mines, industrial branches, communications and transport. Without relying upon it there can be no great industry with high technique as a material and technical basis of socialism, nor satisfactory management of industry, etc. Though our socialist industry is still weak. it is developing day by day. and must become a force leading the whole economy. Only in such a way can the tempo of economy in general develop rapidly.

To us, agriculture is playing a role of utmost importance, and is the basis to push forward all national productive branches. At present our industry cannot develop smoothly without a prosperous agriculture because the consumption market of our manufacture is essentially the home market, first of all the countryside; moreover most of the raw materials and food supplied to industry, come from agriculture.

Therefore the peasant question is still a question of particular importance in the period of socialist revolution and construction in our country. Of more than 13 million people in North Vietnam [2] the peasants account for 12 million, and are the largest force. If we do not rely on them to build socialism, socialist construction is then the work of a few only and not of the broad masses, and therefore cannot succeed. About the Chinese peasantry Mao Tse-tung has said: “Our country has over 500 million peasants, how their situation is is very important in relation to the economic development and the strengthening of power in our country[3]”. This applies to our country: in the socialist revolution in North Vietnam every work must proceed from the interests of over 13 million people, including 12 million peasants.

The extremely rich experience of China in socialist construction has given us a very new conception about the path to build socialism in the countryside. Without machines the Chinese peasants could proceed to socialism through co-operativization. Recently after a political remoulding drive, their mind being set free, they have progressed by leaps and bounds. Land productivity has shown an increase unknown in the history of the country. The Chinese peasants have voluntarily pooled money, strength and raw materials for the construction of workshops, which have mushroomed in the countryside. In the leap-and-bound upsurge they have impelled culture rapidly to develop; they have not only wiped out illeteracy, vulgarized elementary education, but they have also opened high-education schools and vocational schools. In the Chinese countryside at present there is an intense movement to set up people’s communes.

This experience has shown that once the broad peasant masses have been re-organized and roused, and their thinking liberated, their active militancy and creativeness in socialist construction are momentous.

The Vietnamese peasants, first of all the toiling peasants, possess revolutionary traditions. Since long they have followed our Party, and are united closely with the workers within the worker-peasant alliance to make revolution. Throughout the Resistance War and land reform their political and class consciousness have been raised markedly.

Though the poor toiling peasants have seen their living conditions much more improved after land reform, in general they are still in difficulty, the per capital and holding being three sao[4] for a poor peasant, and four sao for a middle peasant, that is why they also want to advance to socialism to secure a better life. As the peasant economy is a small-production economy still relied upon the private ownership system, they still are inclined to have private property, a number of well-off peasants want to grow rich in the capitalist way, therefore we must pay attention to their education and prevent their spontaneous tendency to capitalism. But the peasants’ revolutionary positiveness is the main aspect. As the Party bases in the countryside have ever been strengthened, power and the peasant mass organization become strong with every passing day and really belong to the toiling peasants, we have all the positive factors to make the peasants join the movement for mutual exchange and co-operativization, and on this basis we rationally organize the labour force, improve technique, and impel the emulation movement for agricultural production to raise the peasants’ living conditions and at the same time to push forward socialist revolution.

The Party’s and Government’s policies to speed up production, such as the policies on trade, finance, banking, etc., must suitably serve the movement for agricultural production and co-operativization. Our industry must also serve agriculture, supplying farm implements and fertilizers to it and solving the hydraulic problem for the peasants. On the basis of increased production and improved living conditions, the socialist consciousness will more deeply permeate the toiling peasants, curb their individualism and tendency to private ownership, and the socialist revolutionary wave in the countryside will at an appointed time, advance by leaps and bounds. If the Party’s and Government’s policies, and the means used by the economic and financial organs to carry them out do not meet the toiling peasants’ interests, or they arouse their suspicion and disagreement, worse still, their opposition, it means we have not yet grasped the mass viewpoint in socialist revolution.

* *

Beside the peasants’ small production gradually advancing to co-operativization, handicraftsmen are also a fairly important productive force in the economy of our country. They supply the bulk of consumer goods to our people. The technique of handicraft production has a national characteristic. At present our handicraft production makes up 59 per cent of the industrial and handicraft output taken together, and eaters for 465,000 toilers. The value of handicraft output is twice that of state industry output and the number of handicraftsmen are four times over the number of workers in state enterprises (statistical figures by the end of 1957).

The transformation of the small handicraft production into big socialist production is also a path to make the handicraftsmen willingly organize themselves into co-operatives and improve technique in order to ensure the production of consumer goods to meet the ever increasing needs of the people, secure jobs and the improvement of living conditions for the artisans, and the rational division of labour in our economy. We must help handicraftsmen organize themselves, improve technique and gradually mechanize their bases of production into industrial bases, utilizing machines in production. The experience gained by China in the building of small industrial bases everywhere has helped us realize the latent potentialities of our handicrafts in the process of industrial development in town and countryside.

In a country where the economy of small production still exists, the small traders are still indispensable in distribution. Their scattered trade is very favourable to the consumption of the people. In the conditions of a scattered countryside, with difficult communications and an insufficient network of state trade and purchasing and marketing co-operatives, they have the effect of impelling’ the rural economy forward. At present, in North Vietnam they are still in great number (over 200,000 households), their income is not high — sometimes below 30,000 dongs a month [5] each, that is below the minimum wage of a low-level producer. They are toiling people, their transformation must go through the development of production, drawing them into various economic branches and production bases. They cannot be considered as the main object to be transformed like the capitalist industrialists and traders, so with regard to them as well as the peasants and handicraftsmen, we must make them realize the advantage in organizing themselves, and embarking in socialist production, and engaging in it of their own free will. They also belong to the family of toiling masses, socialism is also their source of happiness, and the guarantee of their bright future. Previously they went together with the working class, and contributed an active part to the insurrection to seize power; today in socialist revolution, they are also an integral part of the socialist toiling masses.

Therefore in the advance to socialism, we must provide the small traders and handicraftsmen with jobs to keep them up, this is also our Party mass line in socialist revolution.

It would be an unwise policy of ours if we reduce the masses of small traders and handicraftsmen to unemployment or raise difficulties in their trade. While advancing to socialism we must see to developing production, helping the small producers realize the advantage of big production and rational division of social labour; and ensure the subsistence and job to the masses, and must not act like the capitalists who run after profit without the least attention paid to the producers’ fate.

The forces of the masses in socialist revolution and construction also include the revolutionary intellectuals, the intellectuals of the workers and peasants. Socialist revolution closely links with the rapid scientific and technical development, the all-round cultural development, to which the intellectuals give a very important contribution. But like any other revolution the cultural revolution must be made by the masses. The Party’s slogan “To raise the cultural level of the workers and peasants and inculcate the worker-peasant standpoint on the intellectuals” is to set the problem of building up and developing culture on the basis of the toiling masses. This is also the Party mass line.

In short, according to our mass viewpoint socialist revolution is also the work of the toiling masses. Workers, peasants, urban and rural toilers, and revolutionary intellectuals, all belong to the family of the toiling masses. Only by paying attention to their aspirations and interests, can we rouse their determination and enthusiasm, and develop their inexhaustible creativeness to overcome all difficulties and speed up the revolution.

Only by relying on the enthusiasm and revolutionary determination of the toiling masses and the powerful pressure of the revolutionary movement they wage, can we make the national bourgeois willingly transform themselves and gradually join the toilers’ rank.

In socialist revolution the unified front includes the toiling classes, and the self-transformed national bourgeois who have joined the rank of the toilers. It also includes all the brother nationalities living on an equal footing in Vietnam, the believers of various religions, and the Vietnamese residing abroad, who with concerted efforts build an abundant and happy life.

Any policy weakening this front is an obstacle, sometimes a danger to socialist revolution.

At present our country is temporarily partitioned in two zones, with two opposing political and economic systems.

North Vietnam is gradually advancing to socialism but South Vietnam is being under the U.S.-Diem rule. The South Vietnam people are making the national democratic revolution. Though the present situation and condition differ from the past the revolution in South Vietnam still follows the general law of national democratic revolution. Our Party’s mass viewpoint in the national democratic revolution still suits South Vietnam in the main.

President Ho Chi Minh has often taught us: Revolution is the work of the masses to liberate themselves. The force of the masses is invincible.

The history of the world as well as that of our country have proved that once the force of the masses is roused, organized, and determined to rise up, it can overcome every difficulty, and do every work.

At present in the world, under the leadership of the communist parties, thousands of millions of people are heroically struggling for peace and socialism, a happy life and a glorious future. It is precisely this great force which has stayed the imperialists’ hand and made them recoil. No doubt, the future belongs to the toiling people.

At home, under the leadership of the Party, the toiling masses have done their best in every respect to fulfil the state plan and contribute to the building of socialism as a basis of the struggle for national reunification, and have achieved many brilliant successes.

It is our firm belief that grasping thoroughly the working class’ mass standpoint and viewpoint and Marxism-Leninism, our entire Party which is determined to rely upon the toiling masses, rouse their consciousness, and develop their boundless creativeness, will certainly take our socialist revolution and national reunification to a glorious success.


[1] Article written on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (1958).

[2] At present the population of North Vietnam amounts to 15,916,000 (1962).

[3] Mao Tse-tung: On the correct solution of the inner contradictions of the people. Su That (Truth) Publishing House, Hanoi, 1957, page 24.

[4] 1 sao: 360 sq.m.

[5] Now 30 dongs.

Next: Notes