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The Importance of Personal Leadership in Vietnam

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The image of the political leader of Vietnam over the past half century played a vital role in the formation of Vietnamese society. In the following essay, the leader features of the two rulers Ho Chi Minh and Ngo Dihn Diem, within Vietnamese nation will be discussed as well as the issue why was personal leadership so very important in Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh ruled over the North part of Vietnam, while Ngo Dihn Diem ruled in the South. In spite of the fact that both commanders differed in leadership styles and ideologies applied, they both had the similar goal in bringing freedom to their land.

Vietnamese leaders played an important role in the formation of Vietnamese society. The image of the leader is characterized by authoritarian features. Leader stands as the only perfect example: the more one resembles him, the better.

One of the leaders of the Vietnamese revolution, the first President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, was considered the “father of the nation”, the founder of the independent state by the Vietnamese. He had an enormous influence on the national liberation movement in many countries in Asia and Africa. He has managed to win a moral victory over the U.S. in the so-called Vietnam War, forced the Americans to withdraw from Vietnamese land.

The leader of the national liberation movements in Asia and Africa Ho Chi Minh was characterized by significant modesty. He was never interested in material goods, dressed very simply, and had no family. The idea of building a new democratic and free Vietnam inspired him considerably. Therefore, he sacrificed everything to achieve the main goal.

Political leaders in Vietnam expressed their psychology oriented to the Eastern countries on the idea of progress and social justice, which was perceived in Vietnam under the ideological influence of Western culture. In contrast to the images of the leaders of the western countries, the image of the Vietnamese political leader has the features specific to Vietnamese values and mythology. As in every eastern country in Vietnam there is practically no personality as an independent subject of activity. Thus, if in a democratic society a status of the subject, the organizer of the activities is given to individual, in authoritarian societies, the real subject of the work is an integral social group which is organized by rigid and stable tribal relations.

Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh in his own image, personality and character of the social and political activities in accordance with the socio-political expectations of the people of Vietnam occupied and important place in a stage of historical development. He became a hero of liberalization when the country needed the freedom and independence. When the country needed to fight against powerful enemies he became a strong, durable revolutionary fighter. The country did not know where to go, which way he brought the Marxist-Leninist ideology and pointed the way of liberation and development.

Ruling methods of Ngo Dinh Diem were different:

Ngo Dinh Diem’s government was incapable of winning broad indigenous support and would always require American aid to stay afloat. There was no possibility of a Diem-led South Vietnam becoming secure or stable enough to allow the United States to scale back its involvement in this Cold War outpost; rather, the opposite was true: as long as Diem remained in charge, escalation of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam was unavoidable (Jacobs, 2006).

The image of the political leader Ho Chi Minh is a typical leader of the East, which is different from the image of the leaders of the West (although he stayed abroad for 30 years). In the East, and in Vietnam in particular, family community is not destroyed. The country has 97% of the farmers and every village strengthened tribal relations. In the village where tribal relations are preserved, where kindness and justice cause profound respect, Ho Chi Minh was similar to any Vietnamese peasants in his simple way of life as he retained and kept the tradition of the nation.

As a representative of the Eastern policy, it does not appear as a separate subject, but on behalf of his nation and his country. His name is identified with the Vietnamese nation, with modern Vietnamese historical epoch. The people, in turn, trust him as an experienced and senior person in the family.

With this firm confidence image of Ho Chi Minh was extremely popular. The image of him in Vietnam, as the image of Lenin in the former Soviet Union, is seen as a perfect example, one of a light. The youth must be guided only by his image, and that is enough for them.

On the contrary, Ngo Dihn Diem’s policy was remembered in Vietnamese society by other features:

At first, Diem was a good president by building new schools and helping the economy. However, the number of people who didn’t like him grew. Since Diem was a Catholic, he didn’t agree with the Buddhists so they became oppressed since he ignored them. While President, Diem threw many political opponents into prison camps where they were tortured and killed. By 1959, over half the country was against him (Cold War Museum).

The image of Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam's educational literature is modeled image of Lenin in the Soviet school. In the process of democratization of the Vietnamese society, this approach to the study of the leader's personality is not an ideal character.

To sum it up it should be pointed out that Vietnamese society is typically eastern and exists as an entity. The image of political leader is an essential part of their life. Ngo Dinh Diem was remembered as communist dictator of South Vietnam, while Ho Chi Minh embodied qualities of witty wise and talented, strong-willed leader.

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