130. Research Note~ Albanian Attitude towards the Cultural Revolution

In the Western commentaries of the 1960s, when Chinese and Albanian interests coincided in their struggle against Soviet revisionism, much was framed in terms of Albania being a bridgehead for the Chinese in Europe as if Albania was a springboard, the European outpost of Mao’s revolutionary policy and Chinese penetration of the European based communist movement.

An article from the influential British think-tank Royal Institute of International Affairs reflecting this narrative was “Albania: A Chinese Satellite in the Making?” by Anton Logoreci ([i]), while Newsweek could headline an article “Albania: Mediterranean Maoists”[ii]  and they reflected the lack of attention paid to the internal dynamics of People’s Republic of Albania and that Western approach devalued the actual value and experience of the Albanian revolution and its achievements in the poorest of the European countries. demonstration

Clearly Albania was the strongest supporter of China not only within the international communist movement, but in efforts to break the American quarantine of the People’s Republic. In concluding that Albania was fully committed to ideological and economic dependence on China, it underestimated the domestic roots of Albania policy and its independent motivation of Albanian national survival and pride in those achievements and its chosen path. For all the references to Stalinist Albania, that Stalin remained an irremovable reference point for Hoxha, was overshadowed in the narrative of the “Mediterranean Maoists”. The “deal” was seen as unequivocal ideological support of the Albanian leadership on the part of Mao’s China as accompanied by substantial material aid; even in the aftermath of the break down in the alliance, western commentators would argue the break with China left Albania with no foreign protector as if that was a prime diplomatic concern.

Albania did became a major recipient of Chinese foreign aid, receiving huge economic and military assistance. China could never materially satisfy the exorbitant requests for full industrial plants, massive amounts of equipment, and military aid. The total assistance from China to Albania amounted to ten billion renminbi. It was, according to a Chinese estimate, equivalent to 6 billion US dollars then. [iii]

“Sometimes our Albanian friends had too big an appetite for Chinese assistance,” Fan CHENGZUO told an international seminar.[iv]

It was the political relationship that had brought the two together, that shared anti-revisionist stance, and it was political divergence that saw the collapse of the relationship. As an alliance it was ideologically based, party propaganda, in turn, Albania lauded China as the crucial factor in the building of socialism. The shared opposition to modern revisionism did not mean a shared understanding of its causes nor its avoidance. There was an emerging explanation coming out of China that was accelerated during the Cultural Revolution that the Albanian party were reluctant to endorse in practice whilst eventually rhetorically supporting the events in China.

In the Sixties, Zhou Enlai, Politburo member Kang Sheng, deputy premier Li Xiannian, and leading Cultural Revolution activist Yao Wenyuan all made similarly highly publicized visits to Albania.

Symbolical of that relationship was seen in 1964 when Zhou Enlai stayed in Albania for an unprecedented nine days


1964 Premier Chou Enlai in Tirana 

Peking Review #1  January 3, 1964 & Peking Review #2 January 10, 1964

1964 Zhou in Albania-a memoir


“Memorandum of Conversation, between Comrade Zhou Enlai and Party and State Leaders of Albania, 27-29 March 1965,” March, 1965, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Tirana, AQPPSH-MPKK-V. 1965, D. 4. Obtained for CWIHP by Ana Lalaj and translated for CWIHP by Enkel Daljani. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117704


Zhou Enlai also paid a visit to Albania from June 24 to 28, 1966

1966 hoxha_conversation_with_chou_en_lai_entry in his Political Diary.


Memorandum of Conversation between Albanian Labor Party Delegation and the Chinese Communist Party Leadership,” October 12, 1967, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Tirana, AQPPSH-MPKK-V. 1967, L. 19, D. 20. Obtained by Ana Lalaj and translated by Enkel Daljani. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117694

Memorandum of Conversation between comrade Enver Hoxha and a delegation of Chinese Red Guards (led by Yao Wenyun) , July 08, 1967. National Archives of Albania (AQSH), F. 14/AP, M-PKK, 1967, Dos. 43, Fl. 1-18. Obtained and translated by Elidor Mëhilli. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117303

Zeri I Popullit editorial, The Albanian Edition of “Quotations From Chairman Mao tse-tung” – A Great and Precious Gift From the Fraternal Chinese People, reproduced in Peking Review #44 October 27, 1967  PR1967-44

In June 1966, Zhou Enlai visited Albania. Shortly before he landed in Tirana, Zëri I Popullit (People’s Voice), published on its third page an article that for the first time reported on the Cultural Revolution. Zhou Enlai in his visit had had a long conversation with Hoxha, aimed at finding the roots of revisionism as a phenomenon. Zhou went back to the early stage of Stalin’s rule and tried to convince Hoxha that Stalin was not infallible as he had thought, but now Hoxha stated that ‘he [Zhou] did not convince us at all.”[v]

Still the outward appearance was very different:


For both sides, when it comes to describing the bilateral relationship between China and Albania, expressions such as “unbreakable,” “arm-in-arm,” and “growing with each passing day” no longer cut it; better expressions include “strong as steel and pure as crystal,” “advancing from climax to climax,” and even direct quotations from poetry like“ long distance separates no bosom friends.” We who were responsible for drafting speeches at that time were all racking our brains to come up with better phrases or expressions.[vi]

Later was exposed (after the breach in the relationship) the disconnect between the public utterances and supposed entries into Hoxha’s private diary at the time, his increasing sceptical views on China and its relationship with Albania.[vii]

There is no evidence that the Chinese sought to impose their Cultural Revolution on the Albanians, as Hoxha accused them in his later published accounts.

The Albanians rejected the main ideological driver of the Cultural Revolution the issue of existing class antagonism under socialism, and in their own activities the Albanians insisted that the loss of party control was unacceptable. There were no calls to ‘Bombard the Headquarters’ appearing on Tirana’s walls.

“Albania, instead, maintained that the main purpose of the revolution had been the removal of the exploitative classes, and of the bourgeoisie as a class. Without this, the communists would have not considered their historical task of liberating the proletariat as accomplished. Perhaps, Shehu maintained, what was let was only the remnants of the bourgeoisie, and therefore not the class as an entity still able to challenge the political power of the communists” [viii]

After all, conditions in Albania were radically different from China’s. Albania’s specific context as an underdeveloped country, which did not precipitate the emergence of a strong bourgeoisie or its subsequent development into a powerful class.

There were differences in practices: unlike in China, the Albanian ‘Ideological and Cultural Revolution’ was less disruptive, mainly serving the ‘further’ consolidation of what Albanian leaders called the total socialist revolution.

The old idealist ideology of the exploiting society still has deep roots and exerts a powerful and continuous influence. When we speak of this influence, it is not just a matter of «a few remnants and alien manifestations that appear here and there», as it is often wrongly described in our propaganda, but the influence of a whole alien ideology which is expressed in all sorts of alien concepts, customs and attitudes, which are retained for a long time as a heritage from the past, have social support in the former exploiting classes and their remnants, in the tendencies to petty-bourgeois spontaneity, and are nurtured in various forms by the capitalist and revisionist world which surrounds us. [ix]

With no ‘revisionists’ to contend with, it addressed more practical goals and intensified policies that had already been in place since the establishment of communist rule such as female emancipation, and the eradication of religious beliefs. The campaign was carried out always under Hoxha’s control and did not cause turmoil, as in launching it, he had warned that ‘our party is not an arena where the class struggle will manifest. It is the party itself who leads the class struggle, it does not allow groups of revisionists within it.

The Albanian view of class struggle within the country was that

It is waged against the remnants of the exploiting classes, overthrown and expropriated, but who continue to resist and exert pressure by every means, first and foremost, through their reactionary ideology, as well as against new bourgeois elements, degenerate revisionist and anti-Party elements, who inevitably emerge within our society. It is also waged against bourgeois and revisionist ideology which is retained and expressed in various forms and degrees of intensity, as well as against the external pressure of imperialism.[x]

The propaganda rhetoric papered over Chinese differences with the Albanian vision of class struggle which acknowledged class struggle is reflected within the Party, however targeted the crimes of bureaucrats rather than a regenerative class enemy.

On July 8, in fact, Hoxha received a delegation of Red Guards and showered them with ihoxhae001p1praise, told the Red Guards that Mao was “a shining ideological and political beacon” for the international communist world. Albania asked for and were gifted 100,000 volumes of the Little Red Book.

Between the two sides, there were frequent high-level contacts and a broad range of cooperation; there was also a steady flow of large amounts of assistance from China to Albania; and the two countries piled on each other high praises and constantly exceeded reception and other official protocols for each other. [xi]

Shehu and mao

Visiting China, Prime Minister Mehmet Shehu spoke declaring that the Albanians,

“We hold that one’s attitude towards China’s great proletarian cultural revolution is the touchstone for distinguishing between Marxist – Leninists and revisionists and opportunists, and between genuine revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries.”  The Albanian party and people, he concluded, had “consistently supported the great proletarian Cultural Revolution and will support it to the end.” [xii]

It was Mao Tse-tung’s that proclaimed [xiii] 

Beacon quote

A sentiment echoed in the Marxist-Leninist movement internationally.

See also When Enver Was A Maoist https://wordpress.com/post/emaoism.wordpress.com/753



[i] The World Today Vol. 17, No. 5 (May, 1961), pp. 197-205

[ii] Newsweek August 14, 1967

[iii] Estimate from Fan Chengzuo, graduate of Tirana University in 1957, served as an Albanian translator for Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, and was appointed as the Ambassador to Albania from 1986 through 1989. Quoted in Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world- A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[iv] Fan Chengzuo’s recollections are contained in Xiaoyuan Liu and Vojtech Mastny, eds.,China and Eastern Europe, 1960s– 1980s: Proceedings of the International Symposium: Reviewing the History of Chinese – East European Relations from the 1960s to the 1980s (Zurich: Center for Security Studies, 2004), p. 184

[v] Quoted in Ylber Marku (2017) China and Albania: the Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations, Cold War History, 17:4, 367-383

[vi] Fan Chengzuoin Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world- A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[vii] Explored in Elidor Mëhilli’s chapter on “Mao and the Albanians” in Cook (2014) Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History . Cambridge University Press.

[viii] Quoted in Ylber Marku (2017) China and Albania: the Cultural Revolution and Cold War Relations, Cold War History, 17:4, 367-383

[ix] Enver Hoxha (1982) Selected Works IV February 1966-July 1975. Tirana: the < 8 Nentori> Publishing House p164 See for a hostile view: Pano, “The Albanian Cultural Revolution ”Problems of Communism, 23, 4, 1974: 44-57

[x] Enver Hoxha (1982) Selected Works IV February 1966-July 1975. Tirana: the < 8 Nentori> Publishing House p165

[xi] Fan Chengzuo in Sino-European relations during the Cold war and the rise of a multi-polar world – A Critical Oral History, Edited by Enrico Fardella, Christian F. Ostermann, and Charles Kraus (2015) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

[xii] Peking Review October 27th, 1967:18

Mehmet Shehu met Mao Zedong on September 30, 1967, and on October 12, 1967. For the Albanian records of conversation, see Ana Lalaj, Christian F. Ostermann, and Ryan Gage, “‘Albania is not Cuba’: Sino-Albanian Summits and the Sino-Soviet Split,” Cold War International History Project Bulletin Issue 16, Spring 2008

[xiii] Peking Review #46 November 11, 1966: 5

Related posts:

Re-tuned to Radio Tirana

The PLA on Modern Revisionism

63. Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania

Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania, part two

33. Enver Praises Mao (1973)

Tirana builds an Internationale (1)

Winstanley (1975)


Winstanley details the story of the 17th-century social reformer and writer Gerrard Winstanley, who, along with a small band of followers known as the Diggers, tried to establish a self-sufficient farming community on common land at St George’s Hill (“Diggers’ Hill”) near Cobham, Surrey. The community was one of the world’s first small-scale experiments in socialism or communism, and its ideas were copied elsewhere in England during the time of the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, but it was quickly suppressed, and in the end left only a legacy of ideas to inspire later generations of socialist theorists.


Made by Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo (creators of It Happened Here) and based on the 1961 David Caute novel Comrade Jacob. Great efforts were made to produce a film of high historical accuracy. Armour used was real armour from the 1640s, borrowed from the Tower of London. Libertarian activist Sid Rawle played a Ranter (i.e. a member of one or other of several English Revolution-period dissident groups).

The film was reissued on DVD and Blu-ray in 2009 by the British Film Institute (BFI), which had funded the original project

Guardian interview with David Caute (2008)

See also the book Gerrard Winstanley: The Digger’s Life and Legacy by John Gurney

‘The power of property was brought into creation by the sword’, so wrote Gerrard Winstanley (1609-1676) – Christian Communist, leader of the Diggers movement and bête noire of the landed aristocracy. Despite being one of the great English radicals, Winstanley remains unmentioned in today’s lists of ‘great Britons’. John Gurney reveals the hidden history of Winstanley and his movement. As part of the radical ferment which swept England at the time of the civil war, Winstanley led the Diggers in taking over land and running it as ‘a common treasury for all’ – provoking violent opposition from landowners. Gurney also guides us through Winstanley’s writings, which are among the most remarkable prose writings of his age. Gerrard Winstanley: The Digger’s Life and Legacy is a must read for students of English history and all those seeking to re-claim the commons today says the publisher.

There is also the director’s text:

Winstanley; Warts and All by Kevin Brownlow (2009) UKA Press

[Elisabeth’s Amazon review: Reality of filming a real film]

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 March 2011

This book is a marvellous read, immersing me in the filming of the 1976 low-budget cult classic, Winstanley. Co-director, Kevin Brownlow took notes during filming which he wrote-up after the film was finished. Published for the first time in 2009, his account is a wealth of fresh honest detail.

The book takes us on a journey of the challenges facing an independent filmmaker. It starts with the painfully-won success of securing UK-funding, includes financial and technical obstacles, and ends – despite critical acclaim – with the frustration of not getting proper distribution.

Professional conflicts and resolutions are truthfully described, with humour and empathy. I identified with the satisfaction of being an (unpaid) local extra dressed in 17th century costume, and the ouch of the screenwriter’s polished script being used as raw material by co-directors, Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo. Both had previously made It Happened Here (another cult-classic), and the book reproduces their creative tussles making Winstanley – which, sadly, for British cinema, turned out to be their final film.

I first came across Gerrard Winstanley a few years ago in the land-campaign magazine, The Land. His writing is as relevant as ever: the earth is “a Common Treasury for all”. A key figure in the Digger movement, which resisted the enforced enclosures of common land, Winstanley was a Christian communist, political activist, eco-hero.

I saw the film at Bristol’s independent cinema, the Cube, in 2009 (and wrote about it on my blog, Real Food Lover). I believe our current industrial food model is linked to the enclosures, conducted over several centuries, depriving the poor of their traditional land-rights to grow food and rear cattle.

Shot in black and white, the film brings to life with authentic detail the Diggers’ self-sufficient commune set up in 1647 at St George’s Hill, Surrey. Inhospitable British weather features strongly – I have an enduring image of rain dripping off trees. The film captures the wretched meaning of resistance where only a camp fire and tents protect protestors.

The film acquaints us with Winstanley’s vision through his written words. It shows the inequal battle with the aristocratic authorities, and paints the conflict with local poor people, suspicious of the Diggers.

I did not realise until reading this book what goes into creating such scenes, making them accurate, accessible and filmmable.

Just as Kevin Brownlow’s film reveals a hidden part of history and makes it real so does his book unveil the reality of filming. Its subtitle – Warts and All – says it all.

And for many the quick verison is

The Digger Song

Roy Palmer who prints the song in his “A Ballad History of England” notes:

“Gerrard Winstanley’s Diggers’ Song remained in manuscript until 1894, when it was
published by the Camden Society. No tune was indicated, but it is clear from the metre which was meant: a version of the family of tunes later used for Jack Hall, Captain Kidd and Admiral Benbow. Its earliest appearance in print seems to have been 1714.”

The song has been recorded by many artists, take your pick from this six.

Lady Maisery – Diggers’ Song

Chumbawamba – The Diggers’ Song

Attila the Stockbroker – Levellers / The Diggers’ Song

The world turned upside down – Billy Bragg

The Digger’s Song · Leon Rosselson

The Song of the DiggersThe Black Family –






A working note~ MLLT

Tigrai [i] : Enver’s little known admirers

Probably the most successful of fraternal organisations allied with the Hoxhaist wing of the 1980s anti-revisionist movement was the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigrai (MLLT) who were at the core of the TPLF.

Following the military coup of 1974, a faction of the military under Mengistu Haile Mariam began to seek closer ties to the Soviet Union. Through a series of purges , first of military opponents, and from mid-1977 through 1978, acting on requests from Soviet advisors to rid the country of Chinese and Maoist influence, Mengistu turned other left factions, in a terror killing many thousands more, especially student and youth activists. At the same time undercut the civilian left’s popularity through the military junta’s appeals to Ethiopian patriotism. The national liberation struggles in Eritrea and Tigari were against the Ethiopian state headed by Mengistu, supported by massive numbers of Cuban troops, as well as advisors from the Soviet Union, East Germany and South Yemen. Mengistu’s largely military-based state communist party, the Workers Party of Ethiopia, was formed in 1984. Mengistu was overthrown in 1991 by a coalition of military forces dominated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

In the 1970s there was a network of solidary support from the ML organisations for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) against the pro-Soviet Ethiopian Derg military regime; it was mainly the national sections of the Worldwide Union of Ethiopian Students (WWUES) that drew attention; the Tigrayan struggle did not appear as frequently on the radar of activists. There was established in the early 1980’s the expatriate organisation, Union of Tigray In Europe.

Although the TPLF, as its name indicates, was a nationalist front encompassing

different social classes, the leadership and the leading elements – later known as Merih Baeta – were disciples of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tse-tung. They believed that a socialist revolution would transform Ethiopian society and that rights to self-determination would be respected. Initially, the TPLF leadership considered embracing the Chinese model of a ‘New Democratic’ revolution. This New Democracy led by a communist party was propagated by the TPLF until the beginning of the 1980s.

“At the beginning of 1980 comrade Enver Hoxha’s latest writings managed to find their way to the TPLF. It was a very important event in the history of the development of the (ML) core. Mao Tse-Tung’s thought which hitherto, had been taken as a development of Marxism-Leninism by the Core was mercilessly exposed in comrade Enver Hoxha’s book, Imperialism and Revolution, and set the whole Core reading and re-reading this book.

The so-called three-world’s theory was the easiest of all Mao’s anti-Marxist slanders to dispel and was immediately repudiated by the Core.”

On the question of Mao Tse-Tung’s thought in general the core decided to handle it with care and profundity. It was decided to re=research the Marxist classics, to critically study Mao Tse-Tung’s thought and all the defense that Maoists could bring in its defense in view of Comrade Hoxha’s book.”[ii]

The left-oriented TPLF leadership with its eclectic views of socialism that had been leading the movement. The self-described Marxist-Leninist core had begun shaping up only after the formation of the organizing commission in early 1983. It was consolidated at a founding congress held 12 to 25 July 1985.

On 25 July 1985 the MLLT was formally set up ‘…after over 10 years of struggle and preparation’. Although the MLLT’s first chairman was Abbay Tsehaye, the chief ideologue and architect of the party was Meles Zenawi, future Prime Minister of Ethiopia and leader of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF. Looking at the ideological course the TPLF navigated, the whole objective of the TPLF leadership was essentially to defeat the Derg military regime and embark on ‘a national democratic revolution [to] pave the way for a planned socialist economy free of exploitation of man by man, in the interest of the masses’ (Manifesto of TPLF, February 1976: 25-27).

At the founding Congress behind the long podium were large portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin dominating the entire hall. The communist force of the [TPLF sponsored] Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (EPDM) and some ten other pro-Albanian Marxist-Leninist communist parties from Europe and the Americas were invited to the founding congress. Tamrat Layne, then Meles’s comrade-in-arms, led the EPDM delegation. While the German ML party sent a Mr. Kafka as a one-man delegation, the other nine ML parties sent messages of solidarity read out at congress.

The MLLT publically emerged appealing to a (universalist) Marxist-socialist ideology but at the same time claiming a solution for Tigrai (that is ‘secession’) instead of for Ethiopia as a whole. There were still adjustments and concealments that the party leaders had to make to gain the West’s support and still maintain their old ideology. Meles Zenawi later argued that the TPLF’s Marxist principles had been hidden so that the anti-Marxist western community, where relief aid came from, would not know about them. The TPLF thus failed to develop a strong relationship with its strategic allies, namely Marxist-Leninist parties worldwide, because it did not approach them openly. Meles Zenawi called this opportunism and classified it as a mistake of ‘pragmatism’.

The TPLF’s reorientation of Marxism-Leninism from the Chinese to the Albanian interpretation, in the work of Aregawi Berhe (2008), was described as:

“also the making of Meles after he read a journal sent by the Union of Tigraians in North America (UTNA). The Albanian conviction regarding the ‘Three Worlds’ theory put the Soviet Union and the United States of America on the same footing as the ‘First World’ countries, but considered the former to be more aggressive and dangerous than the latter.

For Meles and his supporters, the Stalinist revolutionary line and the Albanian

version of socialism were truly Marxist-Leninist. The Chinese path, which had embraced the national bourgeoisie as a strategic ally in its new democratic revolution, was discarded as a ‘revisionist system capitulating to the bourgeois order’. The MLLT was to be constructed on these ideological foundations.”

In May 1984, in a self-assessment of its activities, MLLT stated:

“Proletarian internationalism can only, mean to follow the correct Marxist-Leninist line and wage the revolution accordingly in one’s own country and support this with every means possible throughout the world. Therefore there can be no question of proletarian internationalism without a correct Marxist-Leninist Line.

At this time, such line is the line define by the Party of Labour of Albania and other sisterly Marxist-Leninist parties and groups. That line is the foundation of proletarian internationalism throughout the world. The attitude towards that line is the demarcation line between genuine proletarian internationalism and phoney internationalism.”[iii]

Despite this professed allegiance the MLLT were not listed among the fraternal foreign delegations and guests who took part in the 9th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania in November 1986.

[i] This section’s account draws heavily upon the work of:

Aregawi Berhe (2008) A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975-1991): revolt, ideology and mobilisation in Ethiopia. Vrijte Universiteit: Amsterdam

Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line, the section on Anti-Revisionism in Ethiopia https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ethiopia/index.htm

Tefera Negash Gebregziabher (2019) Ideology and Power in TPLF’S Ethiopia: A Historic Reversal in the Making? African Affairs, Volume 118, Issue 472, July 2019, Pages 463–484,


[ii]  Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.

Posted at Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line


[iii] Some Stands of the Marxist-Leninist Core of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, T.P.L.F.