After achieving political independence Vietnam tried to initiate social change by revolutionary means. What conceptions did the leaders of the country make use of? To what extent did they succed in putting them into practice? Comparing theory and reality proves that by 1975 social changes were characterized by a search for an independent national development strategy. But after 1975 the economic strategy of the ruling party failed. Only after 1986 did it again start to take reality more seriously into consideration. Taking into account the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe the development in Vietnam once more raises the question of theory and the social model. As before the political leadership of Vietnam still relies on a noncapitalist concept of development although social reality has reduced it to absurdity. Implementation of a market economy - will that be the solution for Vietnam? Will this be a more appropriate response to the special quality of the relationship between the market and the state, between the individual and society within this Southeast Asian country?