On the Character of Our Epoch

Albanian opposition to the “Three World Theory” split the anti-revisionist movement in the late 1970s and was ideologically rooted in a reading of what constituted the modern world as found in the orthodox analysis supplied and available from Lenin onwards. In his “Reflections on China” Enver Hoxha wrote: “We are opposed to the views of the Communist Party of China about the ‘third world’, because they are anti-Marxist, revisionist views. […] The main points of our opposition to the Chinese are over issues which are closely linked with one another: over the question of the ‘third world’, over the stand which should be maintained towards the two superpowers, and over ‘proletarian internationalism’, that is, over the strengthening of the unity of the Marxist-Leninist communist parties.” Concern about China’s foreign policy predated the 1976 Congress report and publication of the lengthy editorial published on July 7, 1977 in Zëri i Popullit, entitled “The Theory and Practice of Revolution”.

ON THE CHARACTER OF OUR EPOCH was published in 1982 and consisted of quotes from articles written by Lenin and Stalin. The Preface by the Albanian “8 Nentori” Publishing House can be read as explaining the contemporary foreign policy themes and stand at that time defended by the Albanian Party. This selection was said to have had contemporary significance relating to “the fundamental problems of our times, the major questions concerning the world revolutionary liberation movement”.


on the character of our epochThe present collection comprises parts of V. I. Lenin’s and J. V. Stalin’s works which dwell on the character of our epoch and the strategy and tactics of the revolution. In these works, the fundamental problems of our times, the major questions concerning the world revolutionary Iiberation movement, are subjected to a penetrating dialectical analysis.

The works included in this collection follow in chronological order.

In V. I. Lenin’s works of the first revolutionary period “What the ‘Friends of the Peoples’ Are and How They Fight the Social-Democrats”, “What Is to Be Done?” etc, a series of programmatic theses and tasks in the revolutionary struggle of the Russian proletariat, are formulated. In his work “Two Tactics of Social- Democracy in the Democratic Revolution” Lenin ideologically smashed the petty-bourgeois tactical platform of Mensheviks and international opportunism, provided arguments of genius for the Bolshevik tactics, worked out the tactical fundamentals of the Marxist party of the new type, armed the working class for the further development of the revolution and laid the foundations of the revolutionary tactics.

Of particular significance are the works “Two Worlds” and “Differences in the European Working Class Movement” which constitute an exposure of opportunism in the European working-class movement and the traitorous policy of the leaders of the Second International. A series of writings as e.g. “The Position and the Tasks of the Socialist International”, “The War and the Russian Social-Democracy” etc, are dedicated to the struggle of Bolshevism against opportunism in the Russian and international working-class movement against Trotskyite Liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries and the opportunists of the Second International. In the work “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” the author provided argument for and developed the Bolshevik programme of the national question, expounding on the concrete historical way of how this question should be treated.

In a number of works written in the period 1914- 1915, as e.g. “Socialism and War” etc, V. I. Lenin raised the banner of struggle against imperialist war and internationa1 social-chauvinism, laid the foundations of the theory and tactics of the Bolshevik Party on the question of war, peace and the revolution.

In the article “Opportunism, and the Collapse of the Second International”, V. I. Lenin tears the mask of apostasy and of the betrayal by the opportunist leaders of the Second International and the West- European socialist parties, and defines the tasks and tactics of the revolutionary Social-Democracy in the struggle against international opportunism.

In his work “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” V. I. Lenin propounds his ideas of genius on imperialism as the highest and last stage of the development of capitalism; as monopoly parasitic and senile capitalism, as moribund capitalism, as an unprecedented increase of exploitation, oppression and reaction in all the fields and as the eve of the proletarian revolution. On the basis of this analysis Lenin formulates a new theoretical thesis on the possibility of the triumph of socialism first in one capitalist country, and on the impossibility of its triumph in all countries simultaneously.

In the article “A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” V. I. Lenin criticizes the anti- Marxist attitude of the anti-party Bukharin-Pyatakov group and explains the Bolshevik programme on the national question in the new historical conditions.

In the work “The State and Revolution”, V. I. Lenin developed and defended the Marxist theory of the state against distortion and vulgarization by the opportunists, while in the work “The Proletarian Revolution and Renegade Kautsky” denounces the opportunism and obsiquiousness of Kautsky and other leaders of the Second International towards the imperialists.

In the work “Left- Wing Communism – an Infantile Disorder” V. I. Lenin showed that international opportunism is the chief enemy within the working class movement and stigmatized the leaders of the Second International as collaborators of imperialist banditism.

Treating the character of our epoch in his work “Two Camps” J. V. Stalin says:

«The world has definitely and irrevocably split into two camps: the camp of imperialism and the camp of socialism. The struggle between these two camps constitutes the hub of present-day affairs, determines of whole substance of the present home and foreign policies of the leaders of the old and the new worlds.»

  1. V. Stalin’s major work “The Foundations of Leninism” is dedicated to the theoretical argumentation of Leninism as the further development of Marxism of the epoch of imperialism and proletarian revolutions.

It played a very important role in the struggle of the Party against Trotskyists and all other enemies of Bolshevism.

In “Political Report of the Central Committee, (The Fourteenth Congress of the CPSU(b), in The International Situation and the Tasks of the Communist Parties” and in other works, the author proves with all-round argument the soundness of the general line of the Bolshevik Party and denounces the defeatist attitude of Trotskyists and Zinovievists who advocated the restoration of capitalism.

In the works “Concerning Questions of Leninism” and in other works J. V. Stalin upholds the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress of the CPSU (b), exposes the malicious distortions by Zinoviev – Kamenev group, discloses the attempts of New Opposition to arouse in the Party the feeling of mistrust in the triumph of socialism in the USSR and their attempts to substitute Trotskyism for Leninism. J. V. Stalin lays special emphasis on the absolute necessity of preserving and strengthening the organs of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the conditions of the existing capitalist encirclement and the danger of intervention.

In his writing “Notes on Contemporary Themes” and in other works J. V. Stalin, besides other problems lays stress on the unity and indivisibility of the national and international tasks of the socialist revolution; he defines the line of the party in the field of foreign policy in the conditions of the threat of a new aggression against USSR and sets the new tasks for strengthening the defence potential of the Soviet Union.

In the political reports to the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Congresses of the CPSU (b) J. V. Stalin- makes a detailed analysis of the economic crisis of world capitalism and points out the exacerbation of contradictions in the capitalist system, and indicates the superiority of the socialist system over the capitalist system. J. V. Stalin treats the aggravation of the political situation in the capitalist countries, the relations among these countries, as well as the preparations for a new world war by the imperialists.

The teachings of V. I. Lenin and J. V. Stalin on the character of our epoch and on the revolutionary strategy and tactics are valid even in our days. The present-day capitalist society is developed according to the same objective laws which Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin have discovered.

«Properly applied» as Comrade Enver Hoxha has put it, «Marxism-Leninism and its immortal principles will inevitably bring about the destruction of world capitalism and the triumph of the dictatorship of the proletariat, by means of which the working class will build socialism and march towards communism.»



A first look at the DPRK


Moving boxes is a hazard. It can unearth a blast from the past long forgotten. In this case closely typed research notes for what was referred to as a “lead” in a study group of about ten. Written in the autumn of 1983, they have little value other than the curiosity of questions asked. It was truly a first look at Korea, a gaze subsequently returned but remains as unconvinced as all those years ago. Sometimes it is good to review such past deeds, sometimes younger judgements remain valid.

So in the spirit of the blog here is the  1983 First look at Korea.


Reaching Out: Global Maoism


begin with a quote“The World’s Revolutionary People Love to Listen to Radio Peking”


1966.  Overseas listeners, Peking Review reported in the hyperbole of the time,

listen attentively to the voice of Mao Tse-tung’s thought being broadcast from Peking. They say that they love listening to the Peking broadcasts and they regard this as being as important as eating.”

Radio Peking Peking Review #51 December 16 1966.

selected readings

Throughout the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese media outlets would carry reports quoting foreign friends as testimony that “We, the oppressed people, place on China our hope for the victory of the world revolution”. China’s propaganda, thus, espouses both a nationalist and an internationalist spirit.

How did Maoism reach such a global audience at a time and when China’s withdrawal of diplomatic missions marked an inward period? It still reached out and found willing political tourists, its messages beamed across the airwaves and propaganda was airmail worldwide as demonstrated in Evan Smith’s survey “Peking Review and global anti-imperialist networks in the 1960s” and  in  Cagdas Ungor’s  ‘Reaching the Distant Comrade: Chinese Communist Propaganda Abroad (1949-1976). The word and the deed inspires vanguard aspirations in others, for example, as discussed in Megan Ferry’s article China as Utopia: Visions of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in Latin America. Modern Chinese Literature & Culture Vol.12 No.2 (Fall 2000) pp236-269


Frequent articles appeared that informed the Chinese people that the world shared their love and admiration for the Chairman. This material supported China’s claim as the legitimate inheritor of Marxist-Leninist Thought and China as the world leader of revolutionary Marxism as enhanced by Mao. The main themes, expressed through the articles headlines, emphasized the international relevance and revolutionary advance that Mao Tse-tung’s Thought had as an ideological “spiritual atom bomb”.  As People’s Daily editor argued “Mao Tse-tung’s Thought [was a] Beacon of revolution for the World’s People”

“People throughout the world, and particularly the Asian, African and Latin American peoples, are passing through different stages of revolutionary struggle. They see in the brilliant example of the Chinese revolution their own future and firmly believe that Mao Tse-tung’s thought is the guide to world revolution. The revolutionary people in different countries earnestly desire to grasp Mao Tse-tung’s thought and to apply Comrade Mao Tse-tung’s revolutionary theories to their revolutionary struggles. Mao Tse-tung’s thought is having an even greater and more profound influence throughout the world, and the world revolution will win still greater victories.”

[Peking Review #24 June 10th 1966]

There were frantic efforts to support the phenomenal propaganda in the struggle to build the dissemination and distribution of knowledge. Often formulaic in tone incorporated textual and visual propaganda – China Pictorial and China Reconstructs alongside Peking Review, the revolutionary images in posters and papercuts, and whilst not unique to any one political Mao sketchtendency the use of iconographic embolismic images to signal political allegiance resonates into the contemporary world. Mao idolised in a doctrinaire way, at the expense of a revolutionary engagement, to be ‘on message’

Circulated by overseas groups and radical bookshops, not only as an act of solidarity but , as the 1977 slogan for London-based New Era Books put it, as “a propaganda weapon to build the revolutionary party” as it sold the ideology of the Chinese revolution as its own.

Chinese publications market internationally the unambiguous idea of revolutionary leadership and ideology rooted in the Chinese experience and achievement – at that time its highest expression was the Cultural Revolution.

The radical rhetoric of Ch’en Po-ta (1904–1989 : Chen Boda) personal research assistant and secretary to Mao Zedong, editor of the party journal Red Flag, Politburo member ludicrously denounced at the 10th Party Congress in 1973 as a ‘revisionist secret agent’ for his associations with Lin Biao, promoted all those elements associated with contemporary Maoism. The report delivered by Lin Piao in 1965 “Long Live the Victory of the People’s War!” championed the global peasantry taking on the industrially developed world recasting the world revolution in third wordlist terms.

Mao's Gang of Four

Figure 1 Mao’s Gang of Four: Zhou, Lin, Chen, Kang

Julia Lovell, Maoism A Global History (Bodley Head 2019) challenges the side-lining of global Maoism and its enduring appeal beyond China. Adherents outside China took seriously the message that China was the political centre of world revolution. For some militants it proved also to be its military and technical centre through the training they received.

Promoting revolution, the CPC’s International Liaison Department globalisation of Maoist thought under Kang Sheng oversaw the provision of revolutionary ideas, strategies, money and weapons to revolutionary insurgencies; he met worshipful western Maoists in Beijing and funnelled cash through Albania, and according to Lovell’s reading of secondary sources, provided intelligence to the communists in Cambodia .

China provided Radio stations – Voice of Thailand/Malaysia set in southern China and championed anti-imperialism defiance of colonialism through the institutions of Nanjing Military Academy – guerrilla training –for Zanla’s outstanding military leader Josiah Tongogara and the Tanzania camps with Chinese instructors, and Beijing’s Yafeila Peixun Zhongxin – the Asian, African and Latin American training centre near the Imperial Summer Palace – Lovell suggests its graduates include Saloth Sar and Abimael Guzman. There was Soviet precedent: the Communist University for the Toilers of the East in the Soviet Union had trained activists from the region, among them Ho Chi Minh.

“October 1949 may prove more significant that October  1917”

images (1)

“the thought of Mao is the most powerful ideological weapon to defeat the enemy, and Mao Tse-tung is the Lenin of the present era.”

Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Lights the Whole World”. Peking Review #15 1967 p17

Common sentiments expressed were that Mao was “the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time”,Chairman Mao has carried Marxism-Leninism forward to an entirely new stage”, as for Mao Tse-tung Thought: “It is living Marxism-Leninism at its highest. Standing in the forefront of our epoch” in fact “a work of genius”. Back in 1966, the only thing it wasn’t called was “Maoism”.

The Brilliance of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought  Peking Review, Vol. 9, #27, July 1, 1966

The Brilliance of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Illuminates the Whole World Peking Review #24 June 10th 1966

“Mao Tse-tung’s Thought – Beacon of Revolution for the World’s People” Peking Review #25 June 17th 1966

Chairman Mao is the Red Sun in the Hearts of the People of the World’, Peking Review, 22 July, 1966

The World’s Revolutionary People Ardently Love Chairman Mao Peking Review September 23 1966

The Hearts of the World’s Revolutionary People Are With Chairman Mao Peking Review #42 October 14 1966

The Radiance of Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Shines Far and Wide Peking Review #44 October 28th 1966

The World’s Revolutionary People Hail China’s
Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution Peking Review Vol. 9 No 40  Sept. 30, 1966

Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Guides Advance Of World’s Revolutionary People Peking Review #50 December 9, 1966

Mao Tse-tung’s Thought Guides Advance of World’s Revolutionary People Peking Review #49 December 2nd 1966

The Hearts of the World’s Revolutionory People Are With Chairman Mao Peking Review #43 October 21, 1966

The Hearts of the World’s Revolutionary People Are With Chairman Mao Peking Review #42 October 14, 1966

One of the points hammered home in Julia Lovell’s “Maoism: a global history” was demonstratively obvious at the time:

“Maoism contains within it ideas that have exerted an extraordinary tenacity and ability to travel, that have put down roots in terrains culturally and geographically far removed from that of China.”

The transnational dimensions of the revolutionary visions that came out of China in the 1960s/70s have an enduring appeal still seen in the revolutionary hotspots in the contemporary world but still people talk in terms of the theme of ‘global Maoism’ in the absence of coherent institutional structures or programmatic unity. Lovell argues that the global spread and importance of Mao and his ideas in the contemporary history of radicalism are only dimly sensed as existing secondary material fails to synthesis and explain the legacies of Maoism throughout the world. Her engaging narrative aims to recast Maoism as one of the major stories of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. However this is not an account by a Marxist sympathiser or Maophile:

Maoism in this book is an umbrella word for the wide range of theory and practice attributed to Mao and his influence over the past eighty years. … this term is useful only if we accept that the ideas and experiences it describes are living and changing, have been translated and mistranslated, both during and after Mao’s lifetime, and on their journeys within and without China.

mao wave