The PLA on Modern Revisionism

woodsmoke

This post reproduces an unearthed working text, part of an exploration of the nature of socialist transformation, dating from the 1980s. It was an uncorrected (or criticised) first draft that remain in the desk drawer superseded by more pressing concerns. Little more than a historical curiosity it reflects the questioning at that time.

moscow tr

Book Review: The PLA’s Understanding of Modern Revisionism.

The Party of Labour of Albania [PLA] takes pride in its “ardent defence of the Marxist-Leninist principles” and its “devasting attacks on Khruschevite revisionism.” Although pre-dating its concern to the thesis of the 1956 20th Congress of the CPSU, it was Enver Hoxha’s speech at the Moscow Meeting of 81 Communist and Workers’ parties on November 16, 1960 that marks the open opposition to modern revisionism.

To celebrate this historic event an anniversary conference, entitled “Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask It” was held in November 1980. The papers presented on the development of modern revisionism and the class character of the Soviet Union are far from satisfactory with their slant towards stating argument and conclusion, occasionally peppered with factual material. There seems little evidence of any deeper understanding of modern revisionism than was first expressed in the polemics of the 1960s, and actually retains obviously erroneous positions such that           “the origin of the evil in the ranks of international communism lay in the anti-Marxist thesis of the 20th Congress” of the CPSU. Asif the post war experience of the liquidation of the American CP and adoption of ‘The British Road to Socialism’ (endorsed by Stalin) were not instances in the development of revisionism.

“…the 20th Congress created real ideological confusion in the ranks of the communist parties and anti-imperialist forces on the most important problems of strategy and tactics. The campaign against Stalin cast a black shadow over the historic experience of the October Revolution and the construction of socialism in the Soviet Union and over its foreign policy.”

  • Soviet Revisionism and the Struggle of the PLA to Unmask It. Tirana: 1981 p71

The revisionists attack on Marxism through the spectre of “Stalinism” has led to a mechanic defence of Stalin. A Marxist analysis of such a dominant revolutionary and of the revolutionary tasks he led has too often been reduced to a position that he made a few mistakes but was no Khrushchev. The PLA has not moved to this position but takes an entrenched, unblinking attitude that permits only praise.

If we paraphrase the argument of the conference it becomes clear that the 20th Congress is regarded as a pivotal episode crowning a process of revisionism yet to be consolidated. However that process is dated from the time of Stalin’s death as if revisionism mushroomed up without a prior development during Stalin’s time at the helm of the party and state. Thus a fatal flaw in the Albanian analysis of revisionism is the incredulous development whereby the socialist state began to degenerate top downwards. This avoids explaining how the ‘revisionists’ came to be in positions of power.

The way in which modern revisionism is defined affects the scope of any historical analysis of its origin and continued existence as an ideology. If “the rise to power of revisionism means the rise to power of the bourgeois” then one needs to reconcile that whilst revisionism occurs in the realm of doctrine and ideas, the reproduction of an objectively determine social group, such as the bourgeoisie, requires a material base.

Why is it that the class nature of a state can be changed through a <<peaceful counter-revolution>> within the governing apparatus? Can one charge capitalist restoration on ideological revisionism without offering an explanation on the generation, organisation and capture of state power by a new bourgeois class?

Even though Lenin warned “…that the theoretical victory of Marxism obliged its enemies to disguise themselves as MarxistsThe Historical Destiny of the Doctrine of Karl Marx (1913), can ideas so alter the form of ownership of the means of production, the social relations engendered, and the economic character of the state so that the dominant social class previously represented by the state loses its power?

It is imperative to have a firm theoretical basis on which to build revolutionary strategies. And how one analysis the Soviet Union remains instrumental on one’s attitude and political practice towards the struggle for socialism. However, as evident in the conference papers, there was no repetition of Lenin’s observation in “Marxism and Revisionism” (1908) that:

“The fight against the revisionists on these questions resulted in as fruitful a revival of the theoretical thought of international socialism as followed from Engels’ controversy with Duhring twenty years earlier.”

The public polemic that took place during the early 1960s resulted in static, positional, sloganized abuse after its initial development.

The PLA now claims that the CPC’s opposition to revisionism, which it describes in terms of “great zigzags and vacillations”, were never waged from sound, principled Marxist-Leninist internationalist positions, but “from pragmatic and chauvinist great power positions” (p28). Unlike, as Professor Plasari informs us, the PLA’s “adherence to proletarian principles, its wisdom, vigilance and courage in defence of Marxism-Leninism, its correct line, our Party and our Socialist homeland.” (p9)

Moreover, the Albanians now assert that, in the summer of 1964, “Mao Zedong suddenly raised territorial claims against the Soviet union, thus openly displaying his great-state chauvinism….(and) neutralised the ideological struggle against Khruschevite betrayal, and unjustly attacked Stalin.” (p109) Whereas the resolute defence of Marxism-Leninism remains the Albanian prerogative and (supposedly) its positions offer “the best cure against revisionism”. The brief survey of the Albanian analysis of modern revisionism in practice suggest otherwise.

To paraphrase their argument:

***                        The revolutionary class struggle within the proletarian party, to safeguard its proletarian line and its Marxist-Leninist ideological and organisational unity is a law, a fundamental principle

***                        The abolition of private property and the exploiting classes becomes a reality only after the construction of the economic base of socialism.

***                        However, besides non-antagonistic contradictions which are typical of socialism, antagonistic contradictions still exist during the entire period of transition to communism. The antagonistic contradictions in socialist society have their peculiarities and are resolved in the context of the existing socialist order.

***                        Behind the scenes, Khrushchev and co. prepared the terrain when Stalin was alive and were awaiting the appropriate moment. Immediately after the death of Stalin the period up to the 20th Congress (February 1956) was the preparatory stage to gain control of key positions as inner-party struggle degenerated into struggle for power amongst individuals and groups in the leadership of the CPSU.

***                        The elimination of Beria, and exploiting the ambitions of Marshal Zhukov, meant that the main organs of internal control bolstered the 1957 putsch against Molotov, Malenkov and Kaganovich.

***                        The period from the 20th Congress to the 22nd in October 1961 marked the stage that saw the process of liquidation of the policy, principles and norms of the Marxist-Leninist party.

***                        A purging of the party, between 1954 -1964, saw the expulsion of over 70% of the C.C. elected at the 19th Congress (1952) that stripped the party of its attributes as the vanguard of the working class, as the sole political force of the state and society, transforming it into a party of the apparatchiki.

***                        At the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, under the pretext of the << systematic regeneration of the party>> over 40% of the members of leading forums were replaced. Again in 1963 under the slogan of <<reorganisation of the party>> more than half the members of these forums were replaced.

***                        With the ‘New Program’ the strata of bureaucrats and apparatchiki, who usurped the leadership of the party and the state, who carried out the <<peaceful>> counter-revolution, and who seized the real possession of the means of production, consolidated into a new bourgeoisie. As such it was the logical culmination of the 20th Congress which laid the <<theoretical>> and practical basis for the course of conciliation, rapprochement and counter-revolutionary collaboration with imperialism.

***                        So according to the Soviet revisionists, in socialist society class struggle quits the stage and is replaced by unity which is considered << the most important condition for the successful resolution of contradictions>> ; they absolutize unity and conceive of it in an abstract manner. The party is disarmed by negation of class struggle.

***                        The liquidation of the proletarian character of the CPSU by the 22nd Congress, the theoretical absurdity of a so-called <<party of the entire people>> in practice eliminates the leading role of the working class. IN parties not holding state power, advocating the so-called ‘mass party’ opens the door to anyone who votes for that party, to all kinds of petty-bourgeois elements, from the ranks of the workers’ aristocracy and bureaucracy, bourgeois liberal intellectuals etc.

[This treatment of the development of revisionism lacks the ideological depth of Fiqret Sheliu’s About Some Actual Problems of the Struggle Against Modern Revisionism (pp131-181 in Some Questions of Socialist Construction in Albania and of the Struggle Against Modern Revisionism. )

So the counter-revolutionary process of the restoration of capitalism began with the usurpation of the leadership of the party and state, brought about by their degeneration into a bourgeois party and state. The alteration of their character, the counter-revolutionary transformation in the fields of the political and ideological superstructure, could not fail to lead to the alteration of the character of the structural base also because the new Soviet bourgeoisie could not exist and rule politically and ideologically without also creating its economic base.

Mere juridical proclamation does not define the character of ownership. What is important is its real aspect, the economic aspect. From the economic aspect, the important thing is, first who decides how property is used; second, what mechanisms are used for the administration of this property; third, who profits from his property.

With the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, state socialist property was not fragmented, but degenerated into state monopoly property. Quoting Engels, “ the economic relations of a given society presents themselves, in the first place as interests.” Analysis of the property relations from this point of view, i.e. in whose interest is property used in the Soviet Union, whom does it serve, reveals its capitalist essence. There is only a bureaucratized centralism which is made possible by the specific conditions of the Soviet capitalist order in which state monopoly property is dominant.

State monopoly property emerged during the process of the degeneration of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the party of the working class into a dictatorship and party of the new revisionist bourgeoisie.

Formally, the main means of production are not the directly the property of the bourgeoisie as they are in a classical capitalist society, however there has been an alteration to the social class structure of the Soviet Union where there are now the class of exploiters and the class of the exploited. This regardless of the fact that amongst them there are strata of different economic levels according to the place they occupy in the production and distribution of surplus value.

Such is the peculiarities of the birth, the forms of expression and economic mechanism with the aid of which the right of ownership is exercised in the Soviet Union. By formally retaining bureaucratic centralism to the economy and in the state, and taking measures <<to strengthen>> it within the bounds allowed by the intrinsic laws of the market economy, the Soviet bourgeoisie tries to present the Soviet capitalist economy as << regulated and planned >> economy.

“Thus, the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the socialist social character of property depends on the class nature of the state, on the class in the interests of which it is used, was confirmed.” (p165)


 

Tirana Opens the FILES

files

An adjective is almost always placed in front of references to the former East European security agencies like the Stasi or Securitate, hence the Voice of America’s article describes how

“At the Museum of Surveillance, created in the former headquarters of the feared Sigurimi security service, Albanians can now inspect some of the spying paraphernalia used by dictator Enver Hoxha’s totalitarian state as well as the files kept on many of them.” (1)

A quarter of a century after the dissolution of the organisation and the state it served, the decision to build an archive and open the files and documents of the former Albanian secret police, the Directorate of State Security / Drejtoria e Sigurimit të Shtetit, commonly known as ‘Sigurimi’, active from 1944 to 1991, was taken in Tirana in 2015. The parliament passed with 84 votes a law of disclosure that will allow people to see how the “communist security apparatus spied on them.”

Sigurimi agents were sometimes called “living microphones,” because they were always listening. But that reputation was made possible by thousands of ordinary Albanians who helped them, working as official collaborators, and thousands more who functioned as more casual informants, offering up intimate secrets about those they knew. The machinery of the Communist apparatus relied on whisper networks of compromised people.” (2)

Maks Velo, a painter, was told that his art was anti-Socialist, spent most of seven years, three months and 10 days behind bars alongside other political prisoners in Spaç Prison in Shkoder. Velo requested his 250-pages long file, but then struggled to get through it. Sometimes he would start reading but have to abandon a page halfway through. There had been, he learned, about 20 people who had informed on him, among them a close friend and his former mother-in-law.

Gentiana Sula, head of the Authority for Information on the Documents of the former State Security Sigurimi (AIDISSh), said she was concerned that people living in Albania today will not understand the context in which choices were made, or not made, “It was a society taken hostage,” she says. “There was a lot of propaganda.” She said many collaborators believed they were “serving their country” and being “patriotic,” while others were coerced. (3)

enverEnver Hoxha in 1946

Throughout  its existence ‘Sigurimi’ was subject to an intensive control from the Communist Party (later the Party of Labour) which periodically changed and controlled its organization and resources. The ‘Sigurimi’, was always considered and worked as an appendix of the Party, despite being structurally embedded as a division in the Ministry of Internal Affairs

The so called ‘Platforma e Punës Operative të Organeve të Punëve të Brendëshme’ (Operational Activities Platform of the Internal Affairs Divisions), a document approved by the highest Party organ, the Politburo. Overall the five of these documents have been produced from 1948, the latest 1985 (1948, 1954, 1958, 1977, 1985). The documents established the guidelines for Sigurimi activities establishing meticulously and potentially narrowing the scope of the latest.


The mission of the Sigurimi was to prevent counterrevolutions and to suppress opposition to the regime. Although groups of Albanian émigrés sought Western support for their efforts to overthrow the state in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they quickly ceased to be a credible threat to the communist regime because of the effectiveness of the Sigurimi. Western attempts to “detach Albania from the Soviet orbit include that discussed in the study by Albert Lulshi in the 1949 Operation Valuable Fiend: The CIA’s First Paramilitary Strike Against the Iron Curtain (Arcade Publishing 2014)

“[For the operation’s dismal failure, h]istorians have blamed Soviet mole Kim Philby, who worked in British intelligence and knew of the operation, but Lulushi disagrees. His lively, detailed account of Hoxha’s viciously efficient intelligence service, the exiles’ terrible security, and CIA naïveté make a convincing case.”—Publishers Weekly

But the plotting did not stop as shown in the planning for a general war in Europe in the early 1950s see the OSO PLAN FOR ALBANIA.

Earlier intrigue against Albania was a study by the Albanian scholar, Arben Puto, From The Annals of British Diplomacy: The Anti-Albanian Plans of Great Britain during the Second World War according to Foreign Office Documents of 1939-44. (Tirana: The <<8 Nentori>> Publishing House.1981)

There was an atmosphere within the party that saw the country besieged. At the end of the sixties, the highest authority within the party, the Political Bureau (elected at the 5th PLA Congress in November 1966), was composed of the following members:

First Secretary, Enver Hoxha
*Adil Çarçani,
*Beqir Balluku,
Gogo Nushi,
Haki Toska,
Hysni Kapo,
Manush Myftiu,
*Mehmet Shehu,
*Ramiz Alia,
Rita Marko,
Spiro Koleka,
and candidate members:

*Abdyl Këllezi,
*Kadri Hazbiu,
*Koço Theodhosi,
*Petrit Dume,
Pilo Peristeri.

(The Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies at the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania, History of the Party of Labor of Albania, Tirana, 1971, p. 606).

Out of a total of sixteen members, at least half of them (those marked with an asterisk) were purged during the seventies and eighties, alleged opponents and liquidators of the socialist cause in Albania, often co-ordinating their conspirator activities with foreign intelligence agencies.


One former official, Nesti Vako, agreed to speak with NBC News at a café in central Tirana. From 1969 to 1991 “As the operational technical chief of the Sigurimi, I produced whatever technology they needed,” said Vako, who spent 25 years as a chief engineer. Vako says that Sigurimi agents had the whole country bugged, with listening devices in coffee shops, offices and throughout all foreign embassies.

If the Sigurimi was targeting a woman, agents might study her shoes and then make a replica pair with a bug in the heel — and then swap them out without her noticing. Vako says he was sent to China once, to study surveillance techniques. “I liked it a lot,” Vako says, of his role. “I feel very proud about my work. … I was lucky to have this job and I only applied the law.”

But Nesti Vako told BIRN that he has no remorse about his former job in the service’s headquarters.

“We served the state and the nation to save order. In some cases, we begged people’s pardon after realising, through spying, that they had been wrongly accused,” he insisted. However, he admits that some people in the Sigurimi abused their powers. “Abuses were present and mistakes were made,” he said. (4)

Before the collapse of Albanian communism in 1990, the building that now houses the Museum of Surveillance was known as the “House of Leaves” — a pun referring to both its ivy-clad walls and the “leaves” of secret police files kept on citizens. (5)

leaves

Situated in the heart of Tirana, the large trees in the courtyard and the surrounding walls conceal the two-storey villa from most by passers-by.

Built in 1931 to house the first private obstetrics clinic in Albania, the communists took it over after liberation in November 1944 and it became the Sigurimi headquarters.

In 31 rooms, visitors can now inspect the tools and techniques used by the Sigurimi to monitor and obtain information about suspects. “This museum is dedicated to those innocent people who were spied on, arrested, prosecuted, convicted and executed during the communist regime” a sign reads at the entrance.

Each of the rooms presents a different aspect of the secret service’s work. The core of the exhibition is the spying tools. Hundreds of them are displayed on tables, revealing a surprising array of equipment for such a small, poor and isolated country as Albania. Besides imported spy and surveillance equipment from Germany, Russia, Japan and China, what stands in the middle of the exhibits are the self-made Sigurimi bugs.

Ylli Pata, a journalist visiting the museum,

“I’m amazed. Now I understand that all the rumours about the efficiency of Sigurimi were true. They had the most modern technology of that time at their disposal,” he said.

Tourists visit the Museum of Surveillance in Tirana, Albania, Nov. 2, 2017.

 

Tourists visit

The Sigurimi did not only have good technology to pursue its work but a large network of collaborators as well. According to data in the museum, by 1949 the service already had 11,033 collaborators, 439 of whom were secret agents and 9,141 informants in the field.

In 1965, the number of total collaborators reached a peak of 16,178, with 1,088 agents and 12,332 informants.

In the last year of its existence, in 1990, the Sigurimi boasted 15,000 collaborators, among them 1,000 agents and 11,000 informants.

Unofficial sources believe that about 20 per cent of Albanians collaborated with the Sigurimi, informing on “suspicious” activities of friends, neighbours, colleagues or even family members. Western intelligence sources estimate that up to 10,000 people worked for them during the Communist period. Over that period and until the collapse of Communism in 1991, tens of thousands were imprisoned or sent to labor camps on political charges, another 20,000 were imprisoned. From 1946 to 1991, some 6,000 people, according to Albania’s Association of Former Political Prisoners, taken away by government agents and never heard from again. Their bodies were never recovered, and they are assumed to have been executed, classified as “enforced disappearances” in the language of international human rights law.


Most of the Sigurimi files were in the archive of the Interior Ministry before being transferred to the AIDSSh’s facilities. The archive’s former director, Kastriot Dervishi,   was not hopeful that meaningful insights could be gleaned from the files. During the Communist era, 90 percent of the files were destroyed every five years as a routine practice, he said. Of the files considered important enough to preserve, most were destroyed in the late Communist period by officials who wanted to protect themselves by erasing evidence of their crimes.

Mr. Dervishi estimated that the surviving documents comprised random samples from the files of only 12,000 or so Sigurimi collaborators — roughly 10 percent of the total — between 1944, when Hoxha took power, and 1991. And most of them are from the early part of that period.

“People are only interested in one thing: Who was a collaborator?” Mr. Dervishi said. They won’t find the answers for anyone still alive, he predicted.

A name appearance on the list of informers does not necessarily mean the person aided repression or harmed others, Mr. Dervishi said. About half of the listed informers never provided any significant information. And many were forced to collaborate through blackmail or threats against members of their family.


One-time doyen of the regime’s cultural elite has his own view on the value of opening the files.

“The opening of the communist secret police’s archives will help eradicate the evil that continues to poison Albanian society,” said prominent writer Ismail Kadare. “It is like draining an abscess – a painful surgical procedure but one which is essential.”

Gentiana Sula

AIDSSh Director Gentiana Sula : “The archives of the dictatorship contain painful secrets for many Albanians,” . Initial estimates suggest there are “millions of pages of documents, more than 120,000 files and 250,000 records.”

While formally not a member of the Socialist Party (Partia Socialiste e Shqipërisë – PS), Gentiana Sula has been a PS Deputy Minister of Social Welfare and Youth for three years. Apart from being a member of a family whose grandfather died in prison in 1952, at age 45, she was a biologist and worked for UNICEF. She only left her ministerial position in order to be nominated director of the Authority for Information about Documents of the Former State Security (AIDISSh).

The release of the files involved the challenges in navigating the contemporary political landscape of Albania. A key objective is to bring transparency to Albania’s fractious political scene where the allegation of collaboration or being an informer for the Sigurimi is a potent weapon which crops up on a weekly basis, whether in the press or in parliamentary exchanges. Rather than using the files as instruments to establish the truth, the parties have deployed them as weapons of blackmail to attack opponents as collaborators, or to cast supporters as sympathetic victims. Although proven cases are very rare – in 26 years, just two politicians have publicly admitted it – some lesser known figures have discreetly withdrawn from public life. The AIDISSh is legally obligated to provide information whether candidates for high state positions have collaborated with the Sigurimi or the political institutions of the dictatorship. The same holds for any candidate up for elections.

Some point to a potential conflict of interest in that Gentiana Sula’s husband, Gentjan Sula, is the owner of the construction company AgiKons shpk, which regularly takes part in public procurement procedures, and because the institution she leads is supposed to evaluate precisely those people that open and manage government tenders.


Sigurimi was “wound up” after the fall of the communist government in 1990 replaced by two new agencies, the domestic intelligence agency Sherbini Informatik Comptor (ShIK), and a military intelligence agency called ShIU.


  1. Reuters Albanians View Antique Communist-era Spyware in ‘House of Leaves’. VOA November 03, 2017 https://www.voanews.com/a/albanians-view-antique-communist-era-spyware-in-house-of-leaves/4099668.html
  2. Katie Engelhart, Communist-era secret police files reopen old wounds in Albania. July 23rd 2018
  3. https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/role-archives-transitional-justice/gentiana-sula
  4. Fatjona Mejdini New Sigurimi Museum Recalls Albania’s Sinister Past | BIRN | Tirana 26 May 2017
  5. Fatjona Mejdini New Sigurimi Museum Recalls Albania’s Sinister Past | BIRN | Tirana 26 May 2017

Information and quotes drawn from other articles include:

  • Agence France-Presse. Opening the files of despised secret police, Albania seeks answers and closure. South China Morning Post 27 March, 2017
  • Matthew Brunwasser. As Albania Reckons with Its Communist Past, Critics Say It’s Too Late. The New York Times February 26, 2017
  • Magdalena Chodownik .Inside Albania’s notorious gulag: Spac’s legacy of terror. 24/03/2018
  • New Director in Charge of Sigurimi Dossiers, Questions about Qualifications and Conflicts of Interest. Exit, explaining Albania. November 21 2016

APPENDIX

[Extract on the former Democratic Party/ Partia Demokratike e Shqipërisë government’s use of the secret police against journalists, opposition politicians and critics of the government]

According to Human Rights Watch, under the Democratic Party (DP) government of President Sali Berisha (April 1992-July 1997), Albania became “a one party state based on fear and corruption” (HRW 1997; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997). Several sources indicate that ShIK played a key role in this transformation, committing serious human rights abuses against the DP government’s political opponents and functioning in effect as Berisha’s “political police” (Intelligence Newsletter 9 Sept. 1999; HRW Mar. 1996, 61-63; HRW 1997; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997; NHC 1998, 8-9; ATA 8 Aug. 1998). Sources indicate that under the Berisha government ShIK agents threatened or attacked journalists (Koha Jone 26 Oct. 1995; HRW Mar. 1996; ATA 14 Mar. 1996), intimidated voters at polling stations (UPI 30 Aug. 1996; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997), and used state-controlled media to conduct campaigns against political opponents of the government (HRW Mar. 1996, 61-63). Many of those arrested or detained by ShIK reported physical abuse and torture (ibid. 1997). Berisha’s former finance minister, Genc Ruli, accused ShIK officers appointed by Berisha of being heavily involved in smuggling activities (Transitions n.d.), and the British daily The Independent found evidence of ShIK involvement in organized crime, including drug smuggling (ibid. 18 Feb. 1997).

According to a report in the pro-DP daily Albania, the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Fatos dismissed dozens of senior ShIK officials and officers after it took office on 24 July 1997 (11 Jan. 1998). Nonetheless, reports indicate that ShIK continued to operate with impunity under the new government (Rilindja Demokratike 25 Oct. 1998; The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997; Albania 12 Jan. 1999). In early August 1997 the new interior minister alleged that ShIK agents were working with Democratic Party officials to form armed committees to resist efforts to restore government control in Shkoder, a Berisha stronghold 120 kilometres north of Tirana (The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1997). In late October 1998 the director of the independent station Radio Kontakt sent a letter to top Albania officials and the OSCE ambassador in Tirana alleging that since it began broadcasting one year earlier, ShIK agents had “continuously threatened our journalists with physical elimination and with blowing up the radio station” (Rilindja Demokratike 25 Oct. 1998). In his letter the director alleged that in September 1998, after being “repeatedly threatened with physical elimination,” he was attacked by unknown assailants while leaving the studio (ibid.) In January 1999 the pro-DP Albanian accused ShIK of “kidnapping” a citizen on charges of terrorism and then conducting a campaign against the person in the press (Albania 12 Jan. 1999).

In 1998 the government introduced a draft law “On the National Informative Service,” which was approved by parliament on 6 August 1998 (AHC 1998, 25; NHC 1998, 8; Albania 11 Aug. 1998). The law was criticized by the pro-DP daily Albania as containing “serious flaws that may encroach upon human rights and freedoms” (11 Aug. 1998), and by human rights monitoring groups of “fail[ing] to live up to international principles” (NHC 1998, 9), and of containing ambiguous and vague provisions that “could lead to subjective interpretation, arbitrary acts and violations of human rights” (AHC 1998, 25).

Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Albania: The former and present secret police (Sigurimi and ShIK), including whether members and former members continue to exercise power and influence, human rights abuses committed by these agencies, and state protection available (update to ALB15794.E of 19 November 1993), 27 October 1999, ALB33124.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaa738.html


 

Ramblings of Pawlowski

woodsmoke

A five-lined Wikipedia entry states what is, vaguely the extent of what even Leftist trainspotters, probably know about Paul Pawlowski and the fertile activities of a fringe character that is sometimes associated with the sixties’ ML movement. Speculation that organisations he is associated with may have originated as a split from the Working People’s Party of England are tendentious connections that are not based on a shared political genealogy . Pawlowski was arrested for his maoist activity when selling “the Little Red Book” at Hyde Park corner on August 8th 1967. Aged 40, Pawlowski was sentenced to three months imprisonment partly for refusing to pay fines for obstruction and use of obscene language. The Times records, he told the court, “We protest against fascist violence on the part of the police to interfere with the spreading of the thoughts of Chairman Mao. We protest at being illegally arrested and sent to Brixton prison without trial.” [The Times August 15th 1967]

https://woodsmokeblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/a-tale-of-3-arrests1967/ .

He may have, at one time for a short period been around the WPPE but his own sketchy account of his involvement lays the inspiration elsewhere:

There was Banner books shop nearby in Camden High Street. The shop window was Red with little red books, bust of Chairman Mao in the middle. Indian man Bijour was the shopkeeper.

I am having lunch in Cypriot restaurant with my lady when Bijour comes in sits with us at our table and we talk. Bijour says What Britain needs is British people’s liberation army.
I took on his idea and improved it

What Britain needs is English republican ideology — Republican Party of England — English people’s liberation army. The monarch abdicate — Republican England is born.

Splitting from the Maoist scene he embarking upon a life-time dedication to campaigning for an English Republic. The English People’s Liberation Army was classed as “a paramilitary English nationalist organisation” because

“The Army’s ideology called for the independence of England some quote from “Judeo-fascist” forces, raising speculation that it could be regarded as “an early example of English Third-Positionism.” The Wikipedia entry – and all internet sources derived from it – states the EPLA

“According to the Dictionary of Terrorism, it was “extremely weak” but had “undertaken isolated bomb attacks”. In 1983, it claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb sent to the headquarters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.”

A target delusional in the manner of the satirical Judah People Liberation Front type beloved by Monty Python fans.

Largely unknown on the Left, Pawlowski’s fringe activities included publishing under the title of Oliver Cromwell Republican Party of England

What is democracy? : What is fascism? : What is genocide? by Paul Pawlowski
1st edition published in 1993

Problems of the Republican Party of England : secretary’s report by Paul Pawlowski
1st edition published in 1993

The third world war has begun by Paul Pawlowski
English People’s Liberation Army Publication/ Oliver Cromwell Republican Party of England, 1995 9 pages

This negligible organisation, led by (very likely its single member) Paul Pawlowski, was later renamed the Republican Party of England, is best known in and around Bolton and Accrington “for its leader’s demonstration against the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.”

Any evaluation of the contribution, influence or impact of his activities would be placed in a marginal footnote, a piece of sectarian curiosity. There was occasional reference in the local Lancashire papers such as the announcement of his ‘retirement’.

 

Republican rebel Paul set to abdicate

From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, first published Saturday 1st Jun 1996.

THE LEADER of the one-man Republican Party of England has decided to step down, 15 years after he last hit the headlines.

Polish-born Paul Pawlowski has called it a day after more than two decades of fighting for the overthrow of the monarchy.

The 69-year-old from Water Street, Accrington, has been jailed three times since 1959 for staging demonstrations against the royal family.

Despite a constant battle with the authorities, Mr Pawlowski was never able to get official recognition of his party from the Home Office.

And last year even the Communist paper The Morning Star turned its back on the self-styled republican, refusing his adverts because they did not want to encourage subscribers to read his material.

Mr Pawlowski is currently on the look-out for someone to take his place at the forefront of the fight against the royals.

He said: “I would like an English republican to take over the secretaryship of the Republican Party of England.

“There is no money in it. It is an unpaid job and you could be ostracised. You could be assaulted. You could be arrested and imprisoned. “If war was to break out and English republicans rounded up, you could be the first hanged.”

The defiant anti-monarchist was jailed in 1981 for seven days after staging a solo demonstration outside Buckingham Palace.

At the time he was protesting against the cost of Prince Charles’s wedding to Lady Diana.

Mr Pawlowski also spent six months behind bars after he was arrested for distributing leaflets condemning the monarchy on Broadway in Accrington.

The republican had plans to set-up a Church of Aphrodite in his home town back in 1981. He claimed to be a high priest in the sect, which worships the Greek goddess of love.


Rambling thoughts, anti-Semitism and a hotch-pot of Greek and orientalist mysticism and conspiracy myopia beloved of internet from Pawlowski at http://indiaculture.net/talk/messages/128/10039.html?1252331010

e.g. a sample from his posting of August 17 2006 has at least the merits of biographic material:

A page of current history of England

In 1960s I read the Iliad in HMP Brixton.
Why! That’s polytheism — that’s my religion I decided.
In 1970s I opened Temple of Aphrodite Pandemos in my one room in Tooting. Landlord told me to get out — evicted. I moved to empty house in Charington Road squat.
There was Banner books shop nearby in Camden High Street. The shop window was Red with little red books, bust of Chairman Mao in the middle. Indian man Bijour was the shopkeeper.

I am having lunch in Cypriot restaurant with my lady when Bijour comes in sits with us at our table and we talk. Bijour says What Britain needs is British people’s liberation army.
I took on his idea and improved it

What Britain needs is English republican ideology — Republican Party of England — English people’s liberation army. The monarch abdicate — Republican England is born.

I bought a house in Accrington — turned it into HQ of English Peoples Liberation Army. Got raided by Special Branch.

What is the strength of the English Peoples Liberation Army the SB officer asked?

Military secret I replied. I think you are regimental Number One he said.

I drafted a petition for the Queen to abdicate let England be Republic. Went with it to meeting in Birmingham. It was left-wingers rally — about 200 signed my petition for the Queen to abdicate.
Encouraged by the response I convened a meeting at the Rising Sun pub near Victoria coach station. Five comrades came — we drunk pint and talked English Republic.
Encouraged – I drafted English Republican leaflet — published by Paul Pawlowski, Secretary, Republican Party of England.
The feedback was abusive — To salt mines in Siberia with you, you foreigner!
They didn’t like the name …ski. Printed another leaflet — same text only this time published by Thomas Smith, Secretary of Republican Party of England. Now the feedback was normal — some agreed — some asking for more info — some supported some against — normal.
Went with it to Camden Town Hall where the Daily Worker had a fete. The police at the entrance took notice of the name Thomas Smith — the police was on the lookout for that Thomas Smith — got raided by Special Branch officers.
I continued with placard and leaflet calling for England to be Republic. Got arrested for it in the street in Accrington — the magistrate said three months. With Clenched Fist salute I cried out Victory to the English Peoples Liberation Army!
Local newspaper carried report about it.
In HMP Strangeways prison officers were asking me: Tell us where is the English Peoples Liberation Army and we all go there and join it.

HMP prison officers were the first recruits to EPLA.
HMP Strangeways was burned down — it was burning for many days.


Perhaps the last sentence a reference to the 1990 25-day prison protest?

The so-called Army’s ideology called for the independence of England from “Judeo-fascist” forces as proclaimed in this internet rant, entitled

Treasury war against Republican England

By: paul pawlowski on: 03.08.2007 http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/137098

Continue reading

protracted people’s war as a strategy for the imperialist countries

 

READINGS
#1    Documentary material on radical themes & occurrences

For some years now there have been efforts by some parties and organizations around the world, to try to resurrect or re-establish a new international Maoist organization that differ from the broader membership of existent groups like ILPS and ICOR . Some of these exertions involve small parties or groups (particularly in Canada and Italy) which have been theorizing the notion of the universality of people’s war (i.e. the idea that people’s war is the appropriate revolutionary strategy everywhere, even in highly urbanized, advanced capitalist countries. Whether conditions are yet ripe for this is one of the matters under debate. The arguments also have a tendency to complement their assessment of the experience of the Communist Party of Peru ). Contributing to this exploration of what constitutes the strategic advance are those groups associated with the Maoist Road magazine, and Gonzalists trend, it has seen contributions ranging from opinion blogs and general declarations to more substantial articles. Other parties and organizations would also like to see something like the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement as “an embryo of the new international” re-established, but recognize the serious difficulties in doing so at present. Not simply the short-term collapse of the revolutions in Peru and Nepal, and the degenerated lines of the parties which had been leading those revolutions, and also the bizarre political lines and behaviour of some former RIM parties, such as the RCP,USA, but also the  construction of what constitutes “Maoist” amongst the fragmentary groups who self-identify as such. What is being drawn in this selection of texts is the physiology of twenty-first century Maoism; in these contributions (of varying quality) are the identifying arguments and positions attempting to shape the political strategy for the decades to come.

Part of the point of declaring PPW as universal is to break away from the failed strategy of insurrection and instead use historical materialism to analyze past experiences and military strategies for revolution so we can draw general understandings about revolutionary war from the particular instances of it.


General

Document 001 General Declaration on Mao and People’s War (1998)

Document 002 For A Century of People’s Wars! A World To Win #26 (2000)



Theory

Document 003 2004 – The necessity of distinguishing between the universal and particular laws of the protracted popular revolutionary war| (n)PCI

Document 004 2004 – Protracted people’s war is the only way to make revolution | RCP(OC) Canada

Document 005 2005 – More on the question of waging revolutionary war in the imperialist countries | RCP-PCR Canada

Document 006 2011 – The Paris Commune and the socialist revolution in imperialist countries | (n)PCI

Document 007 2012 – War of Position at the Centres of Capitalism | JMP

Document 008 2012 On Protracted Peoples War as a Universal Development of Revolutionary Theory | JMP

Document 009 2013 What is Protracted People’s War? | Maosoleum collective.

Document 010 | Towards the War of Position: Gramsci in Continuity and Rupture with Marxism-Leninism| Revolutionary Initiative (Canada)

Document 011 2013 Gramsci and the PRPW |(n)PCI

Document 012 2013 Gramsci & Gonzalo Considerations on Conquering Combat Positions within the Inner Wall of Hegemony | Revolutionary Initiative (Canada)

Document 013 2013 The Strategy of Socialist Revolution in the Imperialist Countries|(n)PCI

Document 014 2015 In Defense of Protracted People’s War | PCR-RCP Canada

Document 015 2013 What We Mean When We Say Protracted People’s War, What We Don’t Mean |Black Red Guard

Document 016 2018 People’s War – The sole path to liberation|Klassenstandpunkt

Document 017 2000 The Communist Party Must Lead the Revolutionary War in the Imperialist Countries!  | PCR-RCP Canada

2b) Dissenting View

Document 018 | 2014 – Behind Enemy Lines: Strategic Theory for Revolutionary Work in the Imperialist Core | Nikolai Brown

Document 019 2018 universality of ppw |  Protracted People’s War is Not a Universal Strategy for Revolution | Mass Proletariat (Massachusetts)


  1. Summations

Document 020 1985 the false path of the west European urban guerrilla |A World to Win#4

Document 021 1986 Summing Up Five Years of People’s War in Peru A World to Win #6

Document 022 Why the Peruvian Communist Party is reviled but Marcos and the Zapatistas are loved |rustbeltrevolution

Document 023 The necessity to revise the experiences of the past | (n)PCI

Document 024 2017 OCML On People’s War in Peru, the betrayal by the leadership of the PCP and the capitulation of Gonzalo |OCML Voie Prolétarienne

Document 025 2018 Basque Country An army who learns from his own defeats is meant to win! | (n)PCI


Further Reading

T. Derbent (2006) Categories of Revolutionary Military Policy

 

 

Just Read…. Defiance

Defiance in celloidNechama Tec’s story of the Bielski partisans, published under the title of the film Defiance, is not singularly about surviving German occupation in the forests of western Belorussia. Although as expected this central fact dominates the narrative. It is history told as a story in the spirit of “the revolution is not a dinner party” drawing mainly upon references to personal interviews and written memoirs.

It has the mosaic of blemishes that brings alive the human story. It is history as lived, not the monotone portrayal of the propaganda tone. It stresses the impetus to save lives and the need to recognise, and act upon, the necessity to achieve that. Heroism may be little more than a decision taken in an instant but that reaction comes from previously conditioned decisions and judgements.

The complex experience of the Bielski Jewish community is an incident that illustrates the strength of recording history in all its messy, inconvenient truths. Just as Sun Shuyun’s account* challenged some of the stories and propaganda embellishments of the Long March without diminishing the achievements or heroic impact of its participants, Defiance serves to elevate the human spirit in adversity without glossing over the criminal and distasteful. It demonstrates once more that all human beings have the capacity to behave differently from the way capitalism expects us to behave, even when others don’t.

 

Tec, N. (2008) Defiance. Oxford: Oxford University Press

* Sun Shuyun (2006) The Long March: the true History of Communist China’s Founding Myth. New York: DoubleDay

Olive Morris (1952-1979)

October is Black History Month in the UK

worked as a feminist, anti-racist community organiser and squatting activist throughout the late 60s and 70s in south London . This short biography of south London based anti-racist community organiser Olive Morris throughout the late 1960s and 70s was adapted from Emma Allotey’s original piece.om


Olive Morris was born in Jamaica in 1952

  • She lived in South London from the age of nine
  • Olive was a member of the British Black Panthers
  • She was central to the squatter campaigns of the 1970s
  • She left Tulse Hill Secondary School without any qualifications and later went on to study at the London College of Printing and at Manchester University.
  • During her student years in Manchester (1975-78), Olive also became involved in the community struggles in Moss Side, contributing to the formation of the Black Women’s Mutual Aid and the Manchester Black Women’s Co-op.
  • She helped to set up various women’s groups, including the Brixton Black Women’s Group and the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent

In 1979 Olive Morris died of non Hodkin’s lymphoma aged 27 at St Thomas’ Hospital. She is buried in Streatham Vale Cemetery.


One early example of Olive’s political activism was when she intervened into the arrest of a Nigerian diplomat for a parking offence in Brixton in November 1969. She was physically assaulted and racially abused by the police and was arrested, along with six other people, fined £10 and given a three month suspended sentence for two years. The charge was assault on the police, threatening behaviour and possessing dangerous weapons.

Olive became a member of the youth section of the Black Panther Movement (later the Black Workers Movement). The Brixton Panthers had their headquarters at Shakespeare Road in a house that was bought with money donated by John Berger when he won the Bookers Prize. Members of the Brixton Black Panthers included:

Althea Jones    – medical doctor
Farukh Dhondi – broadcaster and writer
David Udah    – church minister
Darcus Howe – broadcaster
Keith Spencer – community activist
Leila Hussain – community activist
Olive Morris    – community activist
Liz Turnbull    – community activist
Mala Sen         – author
Beverly Bryan – academic and writer
Linton Kwesi Johnson – writer and musician
Neil Kenlock   – photographer and founder of Choice FM London

sabarr

Olive was also a founding member of the Brixton Black Women’s Group. Many political organisations were based in and around Brixton, which was a venue for counter-culture political activity.

Olive was also a squatter and squatted 121 Railton Road, in Brixton in 1973. She was photographed scaling a wall on the cover of the Squatter’s Handbook. The squat became an organising centre, until closed in 1999, for community groups such as BASH (Black people Against State Harassment) as well as housing Sabarr Bookshop, which was one of the first Black community bookshops.

In 1975, Olive moved to Manchester to study a degree in Economics and Social Sciences. She was a member of the National Coordinating Committee of Overseas Students, which campaigned for the abolition of fees for overseas students; off–campus, she was involved in the work of the Manchester Black Women’s Cooperative and the Black Women’s Mutual Aid Group.

Olive visited Italy and Northern Ireland in 1976. In 1977, she visited China and wrote a piece entitled “A sister’s visit to China” which explored the role of China in anti-imperialist struggles. It was published in Speak Out! The Brixton Black Women’s Group newsletter.

Olive, along with Stella Dadzie and others, founded the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent (OWAAD) in February 1978. OWAAD held its first conference at the Abeng centre on Gresham Road in Brixton. (The Abeng Centre was a centre that Olive helped to establish along with Elaine Holness and other members of the community; it is now renamed the Karibu Centre).

After University Olive returned to Brixton, working in the juvenile department of the Brixton Community Law Centre where she was involved in the campaign to scrap the SUS laws.

She criticised the strategy of the Anti-Nazi League focusing on fighting the far right, while largely ignoring the impact of institutionalised racism on the lives of Black people: the role of the police, educational system, etc.

Don Lett, a member of the Movement explains in an interview by Greg Whitfield, that

“It all seems so easy now, the very word just rolls off your tongue, “Black British”, but for awhile back there, it wasn’t so simple you know? Fundamentally the Black British and the Black American experience was different, right from source. Black Americans were dragged, screaming and kicking, from the shores of Africa to an utterly hostile America, whilst my parents, they bought a ticket on the ‘The Windrush’ bound for London! So, right off, you have it there, a major fundamental difference. So even though I attended the Black Panther meetings, proudly wearing my Angela Davis badge, read “Soul on Ice”, there was still so much more that we needed to do. It’s true that we became aware, became conscious in many respects and that was partly due to those Panther ideologies, but the total relevance of that movement just didn’t translate into the Black British experience.”

MORE AT https://rememberolivemorris.wordpress.com/about/

newspaper


 

Research Note ~ Caribbean Workers’ Movement

October is Black History Month in the UK

The struggle within the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination and the transformation of the pressure group towards advocacy of Black Power in late Sixties Britain needs no retelling as it was recorded in The Politics of Powerless (Heineman (1972) IRR/Oxford University Press). That account explored the personalities and issues involved. This note looks outside it three years tumultuous existence to focus on the drivers of radical change identified in the standard narrative as Johnny James and Ralph Bennett. Both men were founders of the London-based CARIBBEAN WORKERS’ MOVEMENT in 1965. Bennett was general secretary; James, head of publications. Both were political workers for Labour Party activist, Dr. David Pitt in his Greater London Council (GLC) constituency of Hackney. (In 1975 Prime Minister Harold Wilson was to appointed Pitt to the House of Lords as Lord Pitt of Hampstead). They were co-opted at Pitt’s insistence onto the Executive Committee of C.A.R.D. – Campaign Against Racist Discrimination. James was assistant general secretary for membership and chairman of the International Committee. Their impact on the civil rights lobbying group reflected the growing radicalisation of self-organisation and political advocacy within Britain’s immigrant communities against the racist discrimination experienced in British society. The turn to community action was not as new as contemporary commentary would suggest. What was heard loud and clear was the anti-imperialist sentiments and concerns expressed.

Johnny and Ralph were both editorially involved in the single sheet one penny newsletter published from 1965 to 1967 by the Caribbean Workers Movement. In August 1965 the Caribbean Workers’ Weekly editorial asked:

“What are the principles which guide truly socialist actions? What would be expected from Socialist leaders, parties and groups?
The overriding feature of their policies and actions must be the furthering of the interests of all working people against their implacable enemies, in our case world imperialism led by US imperialism and British Imperialism with their local stooges.”
(Caribbean Workers’ Weekly Vol 1 # 7 August 1965)

Reflecting left-wing Marxist attitudes of some of what are now referred to as the ‘Windrush Generation’, the newsletter covered a wide-range of topics, including parliamentary democracy, economic power, maintenance of the colour bar, Caribbean politics, and the use of British military forces in the Caribbean. The publications of the CWM was concerned with promoting ‘true’ socialism to the island countries, to campaign for national independence , to defeat the common enemy – imperialism, led by the ruling classes of the USA, Britain, France and others and domestically, reflective of their internationalism, to participate “in all anti-colonial, anti-imperialist, and anti-fascist activities for the benefit of working classes in all parts of the world, thus playing our proper role in the international working class movement against imperialism.”

The first issue of Caribbean Workers’ Weekly appeared July 1965 with the front page news calling for ‘Hands Off Dominica’ and comments on Jamaica’s economy and the Commonwealth Conference. The reverse has thinly-detailed article on the Klu-Klux Klan in Britain, and more substantial piece on ‘US aggression in Vietnam’. That formula was repeated in subsequent issues.

carib

The focus of the newsletters was mainly on Britain and those in power in the Caribbean – articles on the use and abuse of political, policing and military powers, as well as corruption and financial largesse within capitalist regimes abound – but wider global concerns are reflected too, with many articles and cartoons attacking the pernicious influence of the United States in Caribbean affairs. An editorial on parliamentary democracy wrote of shedding illusions in the wake of “what flimsy structures these imperialist devised constitutional institutions proved to be.” Economic power it asserted remained with the monopolists, and it questioned the treacherous Caribbean leaders “how much easier the job of imperialists is made with local stooges to do the jobs for them.”

The Vietnam War, the rise of Black Power in the USA, and the Cuban Revolution and its support for those overthrowing the Anglo-American imperialist yoke are all covered.
Its audience was those who “escape from overwhelming unemployed and destitution by emigrating to the metropolitan country as cheap labour.” [The Carib Vol.1 No.5 February/march 1965]

Amongst the activities it carried were advertisements for film shows of Cuba’s “Island Aflame’ in the Labour Hall in Stoke Newington, and a fund-raiser party at Benthal Road both in the North London N16 district. There were monthly meetings at the Lucas Arms, the venue that marked the open declaration of the anti-revisionist movement with the creation of the Committee to Defeat Revision, for Communist Unity that some members of the CWM had been involved in. The CWM, working in a similar field, continued to reflected those early anti-revisionist concerns with the Caribbean Workers’ Weekly exposing an activist, P.Sealy, as “a Caribbean stooge of the revisionist CPGB” [Caribbean Workers’ Weekly #41 April 16-23rd 1966]. The opposition to the politics of “The British Road”, the CPGB’s political strategy was evident in the position taken by the CWM on domestic and international issues. The newsletter argued,
“there is no fundamental difference between the Tories and Labour government since they both want capitalism.” [Caribbean Workers’ Weekly #38 March 26th-April 2nd 1966].

Vietnam was a weekly solidarity feature carrying reports on the war and agitation support. There were explicit and trenchant criticism contained in its articles. Typically, the article, headlined “Struggle – defeat Imperialism” wrote of the “bloody nature of imperialism, particularly US imperialism” and the need to “distinguish false friends from true friends… We are struggling resolutely for unity among Caribbean anti-imperialists.”
Using the mimeographed technology of the day, the CWM produced other literature, along with the demanding schedule of the weekly Caribbean Workers’ Weekly. There was the CARIB that carried more lengthy Marxist analysis. The Carib saw its first issue in July 1965, a stencil and staple publication of roughly 12-16 pages, published with the then recently re-badged tag ~ Caribbean and Latin American Workers.

The Carib generally appeared every two months (although it had gaps through an irregular publication schedule). There was a series called Caribbean Organisations for Mass Political Education, which covered scientific socialism and Caribbean history.

Originally from Guyana, in north-eastern South America, Johnny James, active within the London Left, had contacts with other small left-wing pro-Peking organisations in London. Principal amongst them was another anti-revisionist group, the London Workers’ Committee led by elderly general practioner, Dr Alexander Tudor-Hart, which produced the monthly Workers’ Broadsheet. The radicalising Universal Coloured Peoples’ Association led by Obi Egbuna, a Nigerian-born novelist, playwright and Marxist- pioneer of the Black Power movement in Britain. See: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/bufp-blf.pdf

Along with these groups and individual supporters, Heinneman argues that for varying reasons related to internal IWA (GB) politics, James also secured the cooperation of the Indian Social Club in Southall in the struggle to transform CARD into a more militantly active organisation. He judged that James, the “40-year old accountant” communist, had always been orientated towards realising radical change in the home islands than towards eradicating discrimination in Britain.  [Heineman (1972) The Politics of Powerless. IRR/Oxford University Press p197]

An alternative evaluation would illustrate the cross fertilisation within London’s anti-revisionist milieu as James, preceding his emergence at the contentious CARD convention in 1967, had an established political record that included involvement in the Communist Party as a London District Committee member from Stoke Newington. Johnny James had been expelled from the Communist Party of Great Britain.  James, along with 14 signatories had associated themselves “with the principled stand” and “fundamentally correct ’Appeal to All Communists’”, Vanguard, newspaper of the CDRCU, critics of the revisionist communist party, carried a statement in solidarity stating the party leadership had substituted insults for serious political discussion, indulged in “vulgar lies” “damaging slanders,” “scurrilous practice”.

ACTIVE IN CDRCU


After the departure of the editorial team of Evans and Jones, Johnny James was a named editor of Vanguard (along with Dave Volpe, Jack Seifert, and Michael McCreery). The fluid nature of parts of the anti-revisionist movement in London was illustrated by some of the dual membership held at that time by The Carib editorial team. They were simultaneously active in both organisation sharing similar political outlooks and orientation. It was not only in the pages of Vanguard that displayed their sympathies: Paul Noone, John James and Dave Volpe were the CDRCU’s platform speakers for the release of arrested Indian communists at a Conway hall meeting in March 1965.

Carib was advertised in Vanguard (Vol1 #9 October 1964) and carried a three part article by James described as a lecture to “advanced cadre of the Guyana National Liberation Movement”. (See: Vol 1 # 8&10). In his article “We Must Fight Racism”, James wrote unsurprisingly dismissively of government initiatives ,

“Let us call upon the Labour Government to act against racism not just talk: and let us expose it when it fails to act. Only the mass struggle of the people can stamp out racism and Fascism.” https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/vanguard/1-11.pdf

Ahilya Noone (of Carib’s editorial team) submitted articles on Cuba and a substantial piece called “Women under capitalism” raising the demand “to free her from the shackles of domesticity” (Vanguard Vol 2 #1 January 1965). Not only her and James’ presence provides evidence of the symbiotic relationship as Paul Noone, also on the editorial team of Carib (and later a member of the London Workers’ Committee) joined Vanguard’s editorial team after McCreery’s death, However John James was no longer on the editorial team by the start of 1966. His comrade Paul Noone was still there but his published article “Some Methods of Work” [Vol 3 No.1 1966] was headed “Polemic”.
Noone shortly departs amidst the disintegration of the CDRCU. Work continued on The Carib before its demise sometime in 1967. That year developments within the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination had preoccupied the activists’ time.

James was once more in the public limelight with the events at CARD labelled as one of the dangerous Maoists. James “always wore a Mao button on his lapel” according to Diane Langford’s memoirs, a volunteer in the CARD office.

CARD’s November Convention

The influence of the input of grassroots radicalism was evident at the third annual convention of CARD at Conway Hall on November 4th 1967. Delegates gathered before posters of radical organizer Robert Williams, who advocated armed Black self-defense, and Pan-Africanist organiser and Kenyan Independence leader Jomo Kenyatta. They stood before signs that reflected some mantras of CARD’s early history, declaring, “Outlaw racial discrimination. Provide effective laws,” but also ones that imagined new features for the organisation, including one that stated, “Black Power means liberation, not integration as third-class citizens.” [Kennetta Hammond Perry (2016) London is the Place for Me: Black Britons, Citizenship and the Politics of Race. Oxford University Press p240]

Reflecting a consciously internationalist approach to anti-racism that would incorporate the struggle against imperialist rule, the radical coalition clashed with those whose domestically orientated approach was limited to state-sanctioned integrationist measures. In line with the words of Mao Zedong, “The evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people”  James contended that the majority who viewed their plight as part of a wider freedom struggle were frustrated by what he described as “white liberals and a few Uncle Toms” who did not support internationalising CARD’s mission.

The Convention ended with the election of a new, predominately Caribbean national council, described in a hostile media, in the words of Anthony Lester QC, a member of the Society of Labour lawyers and one of the defeated leaders, as “a racialist takeover” of CARD. In a press statement issued in November1967 by Johnny James, one of the organisation’s newly-elected militant black leaders, had all the hallmarks of a Black Power perspective.

“Let it be quite clear that I do not like speaking to the white imperialist press reporters’, James began,’ because by nature they have to lie and distort everything one says to carry out the orders and wishes of their masters’?
(Quoted in Rosalind Eleanor Wild (2008) ‘Black was the colour of our fight’ Black Power in Britain, 1955-1976 p74 ~ PhD Thesis University of Sheffield)

At the following December’s delegate conference David Pitt retained the chairmanship of the organisation but the liberal minority abandoned the organisation, and walked out.
In the aftermath of CARD, the activists were united in the London Workers’ Committee, which emerged from the demise of the CDRCU and fusion in 1966 of the “Islington Workers’ Committee” with a group based in South London. In May 1968, the LWC formed the “Working People’s Party of England” led by a team with an ex-communist veteran from the Spanish Civil War Chairman, Alex Tudor-Hart and with Jonny James as Foreign Relations Secretary. His fellow group member, Dr Alex Tudor-Hart was a new officer of CARD following the routing of the liberals, joining Johnny James (Assistant secretary and organiser), CWM members S. Ennis and Ralph Bennett. And there were other individuals involved from the anti-revisionist movement (like Ranjana Ash) whose contributions were less publicised but no less significant.

 


END NOTES
The Movement for Colonial Freedom
The centre of CWM activities was a small top floor office near King’s Cross at 374 Grays Inn Road courtesy of the Movement for Colonial freedom, a leading anti-colonialist campaign group and civil rights advocacy organisation. Founded in 1954, headed by Fenner Brockway, it was an amalgamation of the British Branch of the Congress Against Imperialism, the Central Africa Committee, the Kenya Committee and the Seretse Khama Defence Committee. The MCF challenged pro-Empire views within the labour movement and wider British society and sought to make the moral and political case for international labour solidarity and decolonisation. The anti-revisionist London Political Organisation contact address was Evan Gibbon’s, a member of the Communist Party in Vauxhall, who was expelled by the London District Committee in March, 1964. He was on the Central Council of the Movement for Colonial Freedom.
At times the MCF shared its cramped London office with representatives of various independence movements, including the Uganda National Conference, the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union and the Zambian United National Independence Party. This reflected the increasingly transnational political and personal networks of the 1950s and 1960s which involved British left-wing activists and nationalist, socialist and anti-colonialist immigrants and exiles from European colonies present in Britain. The three-way relationship between the Labour Party, the MCF, and the CPGB and the “taint of communism” for mainstream political respectability saw the creation of a number of other single-issue campaign groups, including among others the Anti-Apartheid Movement (UK), the Committee for Peace in Nigeria (established during the Nigerian Civil War) and British Council for Peace in Vietnam, the Chile Solidarity Campaign Committee, War on Want and the World Development Movement. In 1970 the Movement for Colonial Freedom was renamed as ‘Liberation’.
Obi Benue Egbuna (1938–2014)
Nigerian novelist and short-story writer, educated at the University of Iowa and Howard University, Washington, DC. He lived in England from 1961 to 1973, where he became involved in the Black Power movement. Radical and impassioned, Destroy This Temple: The Voice of Black Power in Britain (1971) describes his spell on remand in Brixton Prison and the general political turmoil during this time. The problems he encountered when he returned to Nigeria are described in The Diary of a Homeless Prodigal (1978). He retained his Pan-Africanist politics throughout his life. His first novel, Elina (1978; first published as Wind versus Polygamy, 1964), caused great controversy in its sympathetic portrayal of a polygamous chief. Other novels include The Minister’s Daughter (1975), which sets a young student against a corrupt government minister; and The Madness of Didi (1980) in which the eponymous former priest and college professor, a thinly disguised self-portrait, is a hero to the young, but due to his radical past faces suspicion when he returns to his native village. All Egbuna’s novels display a sardonic sense of humour, as did his play The Anthill (1965). His collections of short stories include Daughters of the Sun (1970), Emperor of the Sea (1974), and The Rape of Lysistrata and Black Candles for Christmas (1980).