Head of the Central Commission for Propaganda and Education Vo Van Thuong attended the founding congress of the Vietnam Philosophy Association in Hanoi on September 20, although he admitted that Vietnamese philosophy could not be compared with Greek-Rome philosophies, deep Indian philosophy, profound Chinese philosophy, or Western European rationalist philosophy … but Mr. Thuong still expects Vietnam to have such great philosophers at the global level.
Meanwhile, for nearly a century until now, the Vietnamese Communist Party has always claimed their loyalty to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy propagated in Vietnam by President Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party in Vietnam. Maybe there are world-class philosophers?
When talking with RFA on September 21 from Saigon, independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, a journalist with a passion for philosophy, first of all gave the most understandable explanation of philosophy:
“Philosophy is not to study anything, but philosophy helps people to study. It means that philosophy is an abstract science, not a specific science, it is the foundation for other sciences, it applies to all fields from nature such as cosmology, astronomy, to human beings such as politics, jurisprudence, medicine … The important thing about philosophy is to have movement, second is the multidimensional impact of all surrounding phenomena.”
Returning to the opinion of Head of the Central Commission of Propaganda and Education Vo Van Thuong at the Vietnam Philosophy Association’s Establishment Meeting, independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia continued:
“When they were loyal to the Marxist-Leninist philosophy and Ho Chi Minh thought, they work against the movement, that is, standing still. Second, they also violate multi-dimensional impact, because there is no party that has an impact. Those are the two most important characteristics of philosophy, philosophy has no monopoly, so when they are one-party, they obviously committed non-monopoly. Philosophy also has no loyalty, if faithful then philosophy only faithful to reality only. We also see a recognizable feature of adaptive philosophy, that where there are creativity and invention is the recognizable point of a healthy philosophy.”
So according to journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, for the Vietnamese communist government, but specifically for Mr. Vo Van Thuong, a Master of philosophy, he thinks perhaps Mr. Thuong should do research from scratch on introductory philosophy.
With a single political party, the Communist Party of Vietnam, loyal to Marxist-Leninist philosophy and Ho Chi Minh’s thought, is expected to have a great philosopher, even a Marx-Leninist philosopher is still unknown.
Mr. Nguyen Khac Mai, director of Viet Minh Triet (Viet Philosophy Center), when talking to RFA on September 21, commented:
“Mr. Thuong wished to have great Marx-Lenin philosophers, but that same breed was already extinct in Vietnam, it ended after Tran Duc Thao died in France, due to mistreatment of the Communist Party. Because Tran Duc Thao is a true philosopher, an intellectual, and as a true philosopher, they have the spirit of scientific skepticism as well as the spirit of freedom of thought. And all of these things are contrary to Ho Chi Minh, contrary to Marxist-Leninist philosophy. So Marx-Lenin has the truth or not, this is ambiguous … Most people think that there is no truth because it is a mess of thinking … contradicting each other … and the basis of the method their thesis is too out of date.”
According to the director of the Viet Minh Philosophy Center, Nguyen Khac Mai, what the Head of the Central Commission of Propaganda and Education Vo Van Thuong said, is just a dream, but in reality it will never exist, because of the political ideology in Vietnam increasingly degraded, where do Marxist-Lenin thinkers get? He continued:
“And second, even the philosopher Marx-Lenin, it must have an atmosphere for it to live. The atmosphere is nothing other than the spirit of academic freedom, freedom of thought, freedom of creation, and this Marxism-Leninism does not. Without that atmosphere, a kind human philosopher, but also wishes to have great people. This greatness does not mean big tail, not big. In my opinion, Mr. Thuong’s way of thinking is just for fun, but in reality, it is not possible, but clearly these decades have practically proved.”
“Education without philosophy“
For many decades, the Vietnamese government has considered the teaching of subjects such as Marxist-Leninist Philosophy, history of the Party – Ho Chi Minh Thought to be compulsory in schools. According to the Ministry of Education and Training, the purpose of including these subjects in the curriculum is emphasized as’ to provide students with the basic knowledge of Marxism-Leninism, Ho thought. Ho Chi Minh … built for students a worldview, human science … But, how Vietnamese students think about these subjects?
A young man in Hanoi, when answering Radio Free Asia, said his opinion:
“I see those subjects as a socialist motif… hard, hard to learn. In subjects such as political economy, philosophy, party history, I find that languages and their views are very difficult to understand. Most of students, like me, do not like these subjects and we have no interest but try to pass exams of these subjects.
Why, such subjects as Marxist-Leninist philosophy cannot attract young people? According to literary critic Pham Xuan Nguyen, former head of Comparative Literature of the Institute of Literature, former president of Hanoi Writers’ Association, theoretically, Marxist-Le Nin philosophy needs to be compatible with today’s times and must be scientifically convincing. He explained:
“Because if we consider Marxism-Leninism a science, we must be persuaded in a scientific way, not in a way of speaking. In terms of practice, we see that from 1991 until now the Soviet Union collapsed, the socialist system no longer exists, that reality in Vietnam goes inside the socialist-oriented economic model meaning. It must be clear that compared to reality, now there are clearly incompatible and outdated aspects.”
Also at the Congress of the establishment of the Vietnam Philosophy Association, chief propagandist Vo Van Thuong said that in Vietnam, apart from Marxist-Leninist philosophy, other philosophies are less deeply studied, or even less known. In the national education system, the teaching and research of philosophy are not of high quality. Therefore, at present, Vietnam does not have any Vietnamese philosopher who is famous enough or qualified for the expert level.
However, Mr. Vo Van Thuong never raised the fact that in Vietnam, eachers cannot freely teach elite knowledge from superficial Greek-Roman philosophies, Indian philosophy. identity, profound Chinese philosophy, or the rational philosophy of Western Europe.
Independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, continued:
“Because philosophy applies to all fields, here maybe Mr. Vo Van Thuong and perhaps the Vietnamese communist government in general, they mistake philosophy as a specific science, so their education don’t have philosophy, so they lose their way. If summing up a brief ‘What is the philosophy of education’? They do not have, they give very vague instructions, such as Ho Chi Minh’s, Le Nin’s … but they don’t have a philosophy at all. Therefore, Vietnam’s current education is an education without foundation. As for politics, because it has no movement and multidimensional impact, they have been maintaining one party for decades. But the one-party to put it lightly, they don’t understand what philosophy is? Seriously, they betrayed philosophy and its mobility which is not affected.”
In short, according to independent journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia, from politics to education, culture and arts and other fields, it is clear that Vietnam is now going astray because there is no philosophy. He continued:
“So we see Vietnam has people that are obscured by time. For example, Catholic priest Luong Kim Dinh, or philosopher Tran Duc Thao … and the thoughts of those philosophers have been lost.”
Journalist Nguyen Ngoc Gia said that perhaps the communist authorities had covered a thick layer of dust over time, so the young people in the school today, they do not know such philosophers, it is very sad for Vietnam’s education today.