Albania’s part in the anti-revisionist establishment of a contact network and expanding the assistance to foreign communist groups everywhere was partly explored in a study by Albanian journalist Ylli Molla, of the help given through political and military training by the Albanian authorities. [i]
Marku‘s academic study noted that, with the collaboration of Jacques Grippa in Belgium, strong ties were established with illegal communist groups in Congo Brazzaville, where Grippa had good connections with the revolutionary groups.[ii]
In late 1966 a meeting was organized in Rome, with the help of the Albanian embassy, and was attended by Congolese members of an illegal group. Secretly these members went to Albania for military and political training.
Speculation is that if it not been for the Chinese support, Albania would not have had the power to finance parties and train illegal groups from four continents. We know that the Albanian party passed on financial contributions from a fund set up as Chinese aid to various Marxist-Leninist groups[iii] . Elidor Mehilli, drawing upon Albanian archives for his study “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” made the observation that in the early 1960s the
“Albania’s party devised a special hard currency solidarity fund to assist Marxist-Leninists groups around the world. Initially it consisted of 700,000 US dollars. China issued half a million, and the rest came from internal funds. Here was the ruling party of a country that still struggled to feed its inhabitants, projecting itself as a source of revolutionary activism in the Third World and in Western Europe. In 1964, the party Secretariat disbursed money to marginalized Polish Marxist-Leninists; the Belgian Communist Party; the Communist Party of Brazil; the Communist Party of Peru; the Italian Marxist-Leninist paper Nuova Unita; and groups in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Columbia. Activists in Australia and Ceylon were hired as foreign correspondents for the party daily. Small sums also went to a coterie of Marxist-Leninist characters in Paris and London (the short lived Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity), as well as in Vienna. The United States-based Hammer and Steel received modest contributions as well. Beyond the funds, Albanian officials established direct links with Iranian Marxist-Leninists (the Revolutionary Organisation of the Tudeh Party held its first congress in Tirana in 1965). Indonesian students enrolled in Tirana’s university, and a few Indonesian Communist officials were treated to paid vacations.” [iv]
Albania provided financial aid, political and military training for other militants, employed overseas Marxists on its propaganda work on radio and in print, provided scholarship for foreigners at the Lenin Party School and lecturers on guerrilla warfare and the Albanian experience.[v]
Albania, in coordination with China, did not train these groups with the exclusive goal of a communist revolution. What was most important was to challenge the imperialist, including Soviet power and influence in Africa. The two Congolese states, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were illustrative of this.
Visitors, according to Ylli Molla, were said to include Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (1945 -), Kabila (1939-2001), Amazonas (1912-2002),Omar Bongo, Arafat (1929-2004), Khalil – Abu Jihad (1935-1988).
At the 5th Congress in 1966 there had been a delegation address by the Revolutionary Communist party of Sudan. In 1971, at the Party of labour’s 6th Congress there were 41 parties that either sent a delegation or a message addressed to the congress, No African delegates were listed.
Storm centres of the world revolution may have been in Asia, Africa, Latin America, but publically there was little acknowledgement of African-based fraternal parties. Even in press articles on neo-colonialism in Africa[vi] it mentions no fraternal organisations, although it may have been signalling a sub textual criticism of their Chinese allies as the article looks at US policy and expansionismas the main support of the exploiting colonial system in Africa. Albanian main interest lay in Latin America and Europe in terms of fraternal groups as demonstrated in the aftermath of the 1978 split with the Communist Party of China.
From November 1964 there were regular and sustained foreign language programs broadcasting the Albania’s uncompromising Marxist-Leninist worldview.
The external service Radio Tirana was one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, with a massive megaWatt transmitter operating on 1395 kHz, broadcasting in 20 foreign languages, apart from Albanian targeting Albanians living abroad. These broadcasts were in the following languages: Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Persian, Russian, Greek and Bulgarian.
Radio Tirana would broadcast commentaries such as
– “Success of the liberation struggle of the Sarawak people” – “Congo Kinshasa – The liberation struggle is expanding”
– “The flames of the armed struggle of the Mozambique patriots are spreading constantly” – “Guinea-Bissau is resolutely leading the fight against the Portuguese colonialists” (1971)
-” The armed struggle of the patriots of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea -Bissaus records new successes “(1972) -“The two imperialists Super Powers – Sworn Enemies of the Angolan People “
– “The people of Angola are constantly expanding their struggle against the Portuguese colonialists” (1974)
A consequence of the Sino-Albanian split was that Albanian relays of Chinese broadcasts were discontinued from July 1978. The relays consisted of half-hour broadcasts in Czech, English, Hausa (to reach Nigeria), Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish and Turkish, totalled 91 hours. There were also New China News Agency transmissions in French and Spanish for 54 hours a week.
After the breach with China, the location of main supporters of the Albanian line were in organisations based in Latin America and Western Europe with a core group of twelve organizations begun to hold regular conferences with the goal of building the unity of Marxist-Leninists.[vii]
An African group who sided with condemnation of Mao Zedong Thought was the clandestine Union des communistes du Dahomey founded in 1976, it was listed as the Communist Party of Dahomey, as fraternal delegation at the 8th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania held in 1981. Renamed Parti Communiste du Bénin, the PCB was associated with the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (Unity & Struggle). It published En Avant printed in Canada and smuggled into Benin. It was only legally recognized on September 1993.
Probably the most successful of 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.
“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.[viii]
There were claims for elsewhere: Upper Volta, Dahomey, Senegal, Angola and elsewhere in Africa of the Marxist-Leninist movement going from relatively simple propaganda activities to active involvement in the struggle against suppression of workers and their unions. The Canadian newspaper IN STRUGGLE! refered to La Flamme published by the Communist Party of Dahomey; ECH-CHOOLA published by the Tunisian Communist (Marxist-Leninist) Group ECH-CHOOLA; Le Protetaire published by the Union of Communist Struggle of Upper Volta, that vied with a rival Marxist-Leninist group , the Voltaic Revolutionary Communist Party. [ix]
[i] Molla, Ylli, Guerrillas made in Albania: the story of Arafat, Kabila, Lula, Amazonas and fighters from 11 countries, who were prepared politically and militarily by Albanian educators (Tirana: Botolarart, 2016)
[ii] Ylber MARKU (2017)Sino-Albanian relations during the Cold War, 1949-1978 : an Albanian perspective
[iii] Elidoe Mehilli (2017) From Stalin to Mao: Albania and the Socialist World. Cornell University press p218.
[iv] Elidor Mehilli (2017) “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World” Cornel University Press p218
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.
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
“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
“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 praise, 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]
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]
[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
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
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”.
The 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.»
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.»
“Ju flet Tirana” (“This is Tirana speaking”) foreign language programmes of Radio Tirana began on November 22nd 1964.
The new building of Radio Tirana was inaugurated in December 1965 with 8 transmitting studios, 5 recording studios, 5 montage studios, central and a large music studio.
China helped Socialist Albania soon after the inception of the Sino-Albanian alliance in the 1960s build an extensive broadcasting facilities. In 1945, there were only two radio transmitters in Albania. By 1969, there were 52 transmitters, all but eight of them short wave and Radio Tirana broadcasted propaganda in 17 languages to an oversea audience of friends and sympathisers.
During the 1970s, the station broadcast to Europe on 1214 kHz, causing interference problems for the British BBC Radio One on the same frequency. During the 1980s and early 1990s the international service was broadcast on 1395 kHz (along with various short wave frequencies) and was received throughout Europe during the evening and through the night. Radio Tirana also upset many amateur radio operators in Europe by operating transmitters in the 7 MHz (40 metre) amateur band. [http://www.visit-tirana.com/news/view/150/The_story_of_Radio_Tirana-_the_first_radio_station]
There were constant requests for reception reports.
Front and back of the QSL card sent out in the Summer of 1976.
In October 1966 inaugurated at Durres (Fllaka) was a medium wave transmitter with a power of 500 kW, and 5 years later neighbouring it was installed a second transmitter of 500 kW ; both transmitters broadcast the programmes of Radio Tirana external services.
At the time of the building works Western speculation was that the Chinese were installing a missile base in Albania, mistaking the transmitter sites for rocket-launching pads. During the inaugural ceremonies in 1966, there may have been an allusion to such speculation when the transmitters were referred to as “our ideological rockets”. They reached far and wide thanks to Chinese-built transmitting stations, which made Radio Tirana on short wave one of the clearest signals in the region despite coming from a country which was one of the poorest and smallest in Europe.
The external service Radio Tirana was one of the largest broadcasters in Europe, with a massive megaWatt transmitter operating on 1395 kHz, broadcasting in 20 foreign languages, apart from Albanian targeting Albanians living abroad. These broadcasts were in the following languages: Chinese, Arabic, Turkish, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, Indonesian, English, French, German, Swedish, Spanish, Persian, Russian, Greek and Bulgarian.
Partly sustaining this foreign language output were native speakers, a small community of ideological sympathisers, resident in Tirana’s “German villas”, working to polish the presentation of the written and audio propaganda output of the Albanian institutions. Employed as translators in Albania; either in the state publishing houses, Radio Tirana or ATA (Albanian Telegraphic Agency), with some contributions at Tirana University.
“Habla Tirana. Habla Tirana. Están en sintonía de radio Tirana…”
At the beginning, there were three 30 minute radio-broadcasts in Spanish: one for Spain, more for Latin America and a joint one for both. Later, there were two 1 hour broadcasts: for Spain and Latin America.
A study* lists at least 23 Partido Comunista de España (marxista-leninista) militants as working as translators in Albania, the last ones to leave in 1990. The mail of PCE (m-l) came to the Spaniards of Radio Tirana always in the name of Luis Buhalance.
Other marxist-leninists, although less in numbers, came from Latin America to work at Radio Tirana and “Albania Nueva”, a bi-monthly illustrated political & social magazine. They worked as professors of Spanish language, they prepared news or edited them, they corrected the texts translated into Spanish from Albanian, and also hosted radio programs. Engaged in translating political works and the numerous writings of Enver Hoxha produced by the state publishing houses, there were also people like Ramon Sanchez Lizarralde who engaged in fiction translation, mainly the works of Ismail Kadare. Their activity and engagement lasted for a certain period of time (generally 2 to 4 years), then later they went back to their country and were replaced by other incoming couples. They were part of the propaganda machinery of the communist regime, as well, to transmit the voice and successes of the socialist Albania in the world.
* Learning the Spanish Language for Ideological, Political, and other Curious Reasons. European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research Vol 2, Issue 1 January-April 2015
New Zealander June Taylor, one of the many foreigners who worked at Radio Tirana as announcers and translators was hired in 1974 to read and translate news and stayed at the radio station for 19 years. “News arrived at the very last minute. The quality of translation left much to be desired and they were packed with boring slogans,” Taylor said. Phrases like “the army and the people are one and indivisible”, or how the “working collective of the Enver Hoxha tractor combine fulfilled the plan three months ahead of schedule” were among those she read out for years. [Linda Spahia , Radio Tirana dumps Marxism, gets religion Reuters, December 16, 2002]
A consequence of the Sino-Albanian split was that Albanian relays of Chinese broadcasts were discontinued from July 1978. The relays consisted of half-hour broadcasts in Czech, English, Hausa (to reach Nigeria), Italian, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish and Turkish, totalled 91 hours. There were also New China News Agency transmissions in French and Spanish for 54 hours a week.
In 1987, 66 hours of programmes were broadcast in 20 foreign languages every day. Political propaganda predominated and included: Introducing Albania, Listeners’ Letters, Culture and Art in Socialist Albania and The Song of Our Life. Radio Tirana also presented programs of revolutionary music from around the world, while the programme, “What we saw in socialist Albania” offered interviews with foreign visitors to Albania.
During the last months of the socialist era, overtly political programming was drastically scaled down, and the long-established practice of playing “The International” at the end of each broadcast was abandoned. The interval signal of Radio Tirana during this period was the first few bars of the Albanian revolutionary song With a Pickaxe in One Hand and a Rifle in the Other (Në njërën dorë kazmën në tjetrën pushkën). This song also served as the signature tune of Radio Tirana’s foreign language broadcasts.
After the collapse of the regime, the foreign radio service was cut to seven languages and just three hours a day. Now with spare transmitting capacity and unused equipment and no programme, the aging facilities were offered out. Religious broadcaster Trans World Radio became the main client of Radio Tirana’s foreign service and its saviour from bankruptcy. Other paying clients served include Voice of America of the United States, Germany’s Deutsche Welle and the Italian RAI.
After diplomatic relations were restored between the two former allies a rental agreement between the Albanian Radio television and the Chinese Film and Radio Television leased the Radio Centre of Short Waves in Elbasan (Cerrik) to the Chinese in December 2003 for at least 15 years. The arrangements discussed in greater detail in THE HISTORY OF RADIO TIRANA TRANSMITTERS http://www.worldofradio.com/dxld6150.txt.
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.
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 Marxists” The 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.
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)
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)
Enver 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
and candidate members:
(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)
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.
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.”
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.
New Director in Charge of Sigurimi Dossiers, Questions about Qualifications and Conflicts of Interest. Exit, explaining Albania. November 21 2016
[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
Elidor Mehilli, drawing upon Albanian archives for his study “From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World”* made the observation that in the early 1960s the
“Albania’s party devised a special hard currency solidarity fund to assist Marxist-Leninists groups around the world. Initially it consisted of 700,000 US dollars. China issued half a million, and the rest came from internal funds. Here was the ruling party of a country that still struggled to feed its inhabitants, projecting itself as a source of revolutionary activism in the Third World and in Western Europe. In 1964, the party Secretariat disbursed money to marginalized Polish Marxist-Leninists; the Belgian Communist Party; the Communist Party of Brazil; the Communist Party of Peru; the Italian Marxist-Leninist paper Nuova Unita; and groups in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Columbia. Activists in Australia and Ceylon were hired as foreign correspondents for the party daily. Small sums also went to a coterie of Marxist-Leninist characters in Paris and London (the short lived Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity), as well as in Vienna. The United States-based Hammer and Steel received modest contributions as well. Beyond the funds, Albanian officials established direct links with Iranian Marxist-Leninists (the Revolutionary Organisation of the Tudeh Party held its first congress in Tirana in 1965). Indonesian students enrolled in Tirana’s university, and a few Indonesian Communist officials were treated to paid vacations.”
Cornel University Press 2017 p218
These organisations were amongst the Communist and Workers’ Parties and Marxist-Leninist groups that sent greetings to the fifth congress of the Party of Labor of Albania held in Tirana from November 1 to November 8, 1966. Their flattering messages among the 28 republished in a 212 paged pamphlet from the <Naim Frasheri> Publishing House, purveyors of Albanian propaganda material
For most of the Seventies the Communist Party of Britain (ML) held the stewardship for friendship and solidarity with the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. There were many strands to the relationship.
There were the set piece visits to Albania as guests at trade union and Party congresses, and the calendar of activity reflected important celebrations in Albanian revolutionary history as the CPB (ML) held public meetings and carried reports on Albania in the pages of The Worker that, typically were one-sided celebratory view of the Albanian experience.
There were three visits to Albania in 1969: Jim Farrell and another CPB (ML) industrial comrade were guest of the Albanian trade unions in the May; Ted Roycraft, CPB (ML) Secretariat member, led a six member delegation (that included Danny Ryan of Bristol CPB (ML) in the October; and in November, Chairman Birch was in Tirana for the 25th Anniversary celebrations of the founding of Socialist Albania.
During that visit, during a conversation with Enver Hoxha, the Albanian party leader was quoted as praising The Worker as providing “thoughtful and helpful analysis and commentary on the struggle of the working class in Britain.”
Such visits were taken as physical demonstrations of fraternal links, they provided the opportunity for exchange of views and first hand observations of a socialist country.
“A tour of Albania is in many ways a miniature of China. Everywhere there are Chinese machinery, equipment and technical experts. This is real international Marxist‐Leninist cooperation and solidarity. Mao’s name is greatly revered by all. His pictures and quotations are found in every factory along with pictures of Enver Hoxha and other giants of history.“ The Worker June 1969 quoted in https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/high-tide.pdf
The Worker October 1969 CPB(ML) DELEGATION TO ALBANIA
SIX MEMBERS of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) are at present in Albania at the invitation of the Central Committee of the Albanian Party of Labour.
All members of the delegation are workers and they will also be meeting representatives of the Albanian Trade Unions.
Their visit coincides with preparations all over the country for the celebration of the 25thAnniversary of the liberation of Albania from fascist occupation. The Albanian Working people are not only successfully fulfilling plan targets but have undertaken special pledges of endeavour in all fields to meet with a balance sheet of great socialist achievements the nation-wide celebrations of this Anniversary on November 29th.
Not only on the industrial front have workers surpassed the estimated level of production in the metallurgical and chemical enterprises and the supply of building materials but they have also achieved great success & in the food industries and have nearly completed the electrification of the countryside a whole year ahead of schedule.
Greetings on the 26th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of Albania. The Secretariat of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist- Leninist) sends its warmest fraternal greetings to the Party of Labour of Albania in celebration or 26 years of socialist advance.
We hail the steadfast and determined struggle of the Albanian Party under the brilliant leadership of Comrade Enver Hoxha which has kept the banner or socialism flying high despite every kind or provocation by imperialism and Soviet revisionism. Surrounded by US and Russian imperialist bases, threatened by nuclear missiles, the people and Party have refused to be intimidated, refused to compromise, refused to deviate from the hard revolutionary road.
Today on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the founding of the socialist state the Albanian workers and peasants, under the banner of Marxism-Leninism, have scored tremendous victories in industry and agriculture.
Not material incentives but socialist emulation, not dependence on experts but the initiative and self-reliance or thousands or workers have led to the transformation of a backward, semi-colonial economy into a modern balanced socialist economy. All branches or industry and agriculture are booming and targets of the 4th Plan have already been fulfilled and over-fulfilled.
Most important or all have been the tremendous strides taken in the formation of the new socialist man and woman. We who live in the midst of capitalism’s decadence salute the creation of a new society and a new morality not based on the exploitation of workers but on their liberation. Every socialist victory in Albania encourages us as we start on the long and arduous road to smash British imperialism.
Long live the People’s Republic or Albania!
Long live the revolutionary friendship of the Albanian and British working class!
The Worker November 1971 CPB (ML) DELEGATION TO ALBANIA
The Worker, in what was to become an annual feature, carried a report that:
At the Invitation of the Albanian Party of Labour Reg Birch, Chairman of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and another member of the Central Committee have gone lo Tirana to take part in the celebration of the Party of Labour’s 30th Anniversary and the convening of the Sixth Party Congress. They take with them the comradely greetings of the CPB (ML) and the fraternal good wishes of British workers.
The Worker No.21 November 1st 1973 A VISIT TO ALBANIA
Bellman Books, the public face of the CPB (ML) , organisational hub and meeting venue, provided an important outlet for English-language material from Albania.
The bookshop were subscription agents for Albanian English-Language magazine e.g. New Albania (‘beautifully illustrated bi-monthly magazine of socialist developments In Albania), and sold publications not stocked in mainstream book sellers
e.g. “ HISTORY OF THE PARTY OF LABOUR OF Albania . One volume edition in hard covers obtained nowhere else 70P (postage extra)”, and political propaganda such as the “Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania, submitted to the Vlth Congress by Enver Hoxha”, along with material on the culture and social developments in the small Balkan nation.
Radio Tirana’s English language broadcasts were advertised in The Worker as a…..RADIO STATION FOR WORKERS IN BRITAIN The Worker SEPTEMBER 1969
NEW ALBANIAN SOCIETY
In March 1969, the newspaper of the CPB ML carried this article announcing the NEW ALBANIA SOCIETY, the officially recognised friendship and solidarity organisation in Britain, and advertised two meetings with talks from “recent visitors” to Albania. That contact with the country had a rarity as the country was regarded as one of the most “backward” under-developed countries of Europe, diplomatically isolated and closed off, inaccessible, a secretive, culturally different society regard like North Korea is presented in the popular media today.
‘The Worker’ April 1969 reported the first public meeting of the New Albanian Society on March 15 1969. Dorothy Birch, a teacher who visited Albania in the summer of 1968, “gave an interesting account of the country and its socialist development” accompanied by “interesting slides of many aspects of the country.” Chairman of the society was Professor Cyril Offord, F.R.S. (London University), its secretary Joanna Seymour of Westbourne Grove, London W 11.
Programmes of events were drawn up: typically as on June 13 1969: an illustrated talk on Albanian folk music at 155 Fortess Road. The British premiere of the film, ‘Triumph over Death’ was shown at Conway Hall on Friday October 31st 1969. The Society was to be a regular feature of Party life until the late 1970s. Regular meetings and talks at Bellman Bookshop, showing films under the auspices of the friendship organisation, New Albania Society e.g. JAN. 21st 1972 MEETING ON Albania AND Film SHOW
FIRST SHOWING IN BRITAIN
The premiere of the Albanian feature film: “TRIUMPH OVER DEATH”
Based on a true incident in the heroic liberation struggle of the Albanian people against Fascism.
Conway Hall, Rod Lion Square. WC1.
7.00 p.m; Friday October, 31st. 1969
A visitor to the country and leading CPB (ML) member, William Ash published Pickaxe and Rifle: The Story of the Albanian People in 1974.
Reports on the economic and social developments in Albania accentuated the positive and masked the low base from which the country was developing. The reportage was strong on solidarity and friendship, less so as an accurate portrayal of the country’s state e.g. ALBANIA: where people’s needs have priority (The Worker No.2 January 25th 1973) so when they state that rent for homes is only 3 per cent of an average worker’s wage, there are no statistical facts to indicate what level that income is, and how it might compare to other European countries.
One of the features of Albania today that never received a mention: the ubiquitous concrete mushrooms that populate modern Albania, built as part of a defensive strategy that saw huge investment in construction to defend the country against invasion. The UK legacy of WW2 pillboxes pales into insignificance.
The extent to which the political promotion of Albania distorted the actual reality of a developing nation was most evident in the 1976 pamphlet published by the CPB (ML) dominated New Albania Society entitled, Albania: The Most Successful Country in Europe .
The Worker September 1970 Albanian Handicrafts on Display
There will be an Albanian stand, displaying examples of their handicrafts, at the 18th International Handicraft Exhibition which opens on August 28th and continues till September 12th. These products of Peoples’ Albania which all the friends of Albania will want to see will be shown on stand 030.
Exhibition Hall Olympia
FILMS – PHOTOGRAPHS – MUSIC From PEOPLES ALBANIA
The only Socialist country in Europe, which has just celebrated 25 years of tremendous achievements in industry, agriculture, the arts and, most important of all, social relations in a true workers’ democracy.
Albania is our window onto the exciting world of socialism, where workers under the leadership of the Party of Labour, inspired by the great Marxist-Leninist, Enver Hoxha, are blazing the trail British workers will want to take.
From the 14th September till the first week in October
Every evening from 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.
Feature Film – “Triumph Over Death”
Tues. 15th Sept., Fri. 25th Sept., 7.30 p.m. 3/6.
I 55 Fortess Road, Tufnell Park Tube Station, London NW5.
Organised by the Bellman Bookshop.
The Worker, July 1970 ALBANIA ABOLISHES INCOME TAX
From November 8th this year the Peoples Republic of Albania has decided to abolish the system of taxation, including insurance.
There will be no deductions from any workers’ pay packet!
Any British wage or salary earner who looks angrily at the difference between the figure at the beginning of his pay slip and the much smaller figure at the end, will be envious.
The Albanians are able to do this because of the steady increase in the national income, and the success of the workers in surpassing the targets of the fourth 5 year plan. This is an example of socialist planning in a country led by a Marxist Leninist party.
The Worker May 1971
The Worker, Nov 16th. 1972 (No17) ONE BIG CONSTRUCTION SITE
(Written by a young worker who spent his holiday in the People’s Republic of Albania)
To know about a socialist country from books and pictures is one thing, but actually to see socialism first hand is quite another experience.
Especially when that country, twenty–eight years ago, was the most backward in Europe, ruined economically by the war and retarded by age-old religious and superstitious beliefs .Today however, this tiny country, The People’s Republic of Albania, is forging ahead in the construction of socialism and rapidly rising the welfare of its people.
The tone of the country is set when you reach the border, having left Yugoslavia; the cultivated trees, the flower beds, and the new customs house being built. For it is the amount of building being done that strikes the visitor most. Factories, irrigation, canals, houses, railways and, something most important for the future of Albanian industry, a huge metallurgical works. These are some of the projects well under way. In 1969 the volume of construction work had increased seventy-nine times over that of 1938.
Agriculture is making speedy Progress also, with many new crops being cultivated. Even in the rugged mountains, areas are being cleared and olive and fruit trees planted. A most impressive sight is the formerly barren hillsides now terraced and ready for planting.
But to admire only the economic and technological progress is to see only half of the Albanian picture. With a socialist base, they have created a platform from which it is possible to fight against many of the ills that beset capitalist society, such as pollution, delinquency, alcohol and drug addiction, and crime. (Many crimes, from petty theft to murder, are virtually unknown,)
Albania is above all a healthy country, a country of the future, and most important of all a country for the workers. There are no wealthy business men living in big villas, rich property speculators or corrupt bureaucrats tying the system up in knots with red tape. With a Marxist-Leninist party as its vanguard, the working class is taking the lead and forging for itself a new type of society.
ALBANIA’S NATIONAL DAY Meeting Friday November 24th 1972
7.30 pm Central College Theatre, 16,Gordon St . W.C.1 off Euston Square.
The shift in international allegiance of Britain’s most prominent Maoists, the CPB (ML), occurred over a very short period of time. In 1976, the pending changes were signalled in Birch’s speech to the 7th Congress of the Party of Albania, he concluded,
“The test of a revolutionary working class in Europe today is in its understanding of the greatness and historic contribution to Marxism‐Leninism to revolution and socialism of the Albanian people. Just as in October 1917 and for all the years of the Bolshevik Revolution, the test of class understanding of Marxism was the attitude to the Bolshevik Revolution now the test is the attitude to Albania. Albania is not alone, nor are the workers of Europe ever without a champion and friend while there is Albania.”
New Albania Society, Albania, the most successful country in Europe (1976)
That Reg Birch had singled out the attitude towards Albania as the litmus test of marxist understanding was a clear sign of agreement with the PLA analysis of the international situation. The Worker of November 29th 1976 devoted half of its space to coverage of the PLA Congress, reproducing excerpts from Enver Hoxha’s criticism of the concept of’ three worlds’ . In an allusion to the foreign policy analysis of China, the 1976 Congress document says: “For our party there is but one world. The divisive force is class. The division in Britain: working class – capitalist class, the expropriated and the expropriator, the exploited and the exploiter.” This attacked the three‐world line before it was profitable or popular to do so. That support was made even more explicit with the front page Worker article. “A Single World Divided By Class” with its opening line:
All over the world the two class forces, the capitalist class and the working class, confront each other with their radically different: ways of life and thought: profits, exploitation and war on the one hand, production geared to people’s needs, freedom and peace on the other.
The Worker Jan.24th 1977
The CPB (ML) was not simply tailing behind the Albanian position, the 1976 Congress of the organisation had contained criticism that matched that of the Albanian party, and that agreement cemented the CPB (ML) alignment to Albania in her strained relations with China. The ’76 Congress document observed:
“The division of the world into 1, 2, 3 is artificial and mechanistic, and there are special dangers inherent within the so‐called developing countries and within the liberation struggles today; no true liberation can be achieved within this one world without the strongest development of marxist forces.”
Initial solidarity with Albania in its criticism of the “Three Worlds Theory” led to a re-assessment of China’s general political orientation, with The Worker describing “China’s Capitalist Chaos” by February 1979.
Throughout 1978, The CPB (ML) organised public meetings in support of Albania. At a meeting in Conway Hall (London) in October, Enver Hoxha was praised for leading the attack “against the anti‐communist theory of three worlds.”
The Worker No.35 October 12th 1978 p20.
The meeting, “Albania – beacon of Marxism‐Leninism”, promoted the view that, “the Albanians had been able to foresee, expose and survive the treachery of former allies in the struggle for socialism – first of all Yugoslavia at the end of the war, then Russia in the 1960s and now China.”
“The line of ‘three worlds’ which never warranted the title of a theory, stands naked for what always was, a weak apology for China’s bid to attain the status of a world imperialist power.”….”Our Party was the first in the world to oppose it.”
However the relationship with Tirana waned. Reg Birch stated explicitly the deeply held belief within the CPB (ML) leadership in his 1978 May Day address at Conway Hall, London:
“You will not solve the problems of Britain by theories extracted from Peking or anywhere else. They will be solved solely by the will, the power of the British working class, its clarity and the guidance it receives from this party.”
The Worker May 11th 1978
The pride in, what Reg always referred to as the oldest working class in the world, degenerated into a very chauvinist stance that was impervious to learning from other organisation.
Throughout 1979 another shift had taken place in the perception of the party. The identification with , and its relationship with Albania cooled as there were noticeably less frequent reports about Albania in contrast to 1978 and there was no special reference to Albania in that year’s May Day edition of The Worker. The principal reason, expressed in fellow Party member, Will Podmore’s sympathetic biography of Reg Birch, was the conflicting attitude to organising in the working class in Britain.
Podmore notes that the 1979 Congress document “depicted the development in Britain of the two contending classes and the way that the working class had developed trade unions in order to survive. It appraised the organisational strengths and political weaknesses of our trade unions. It also upheld the class’s right, and duty, to work in our trade unions, and opposed suggestions from, sadly, the Party of Labor of Albania, that workers should walk away from their own organisations and form Red unions.”
Even though Reg Birch retired from the General Council of the TUC that year, neither him nor the CPB (ML) were going to idly accept such “slanders” directed against British trade unionists. The dominant line that had informed the CPB (ML)’s international allegiance reasserted itself:
“We can’t turn to a united international communist movement for aid, which is no great handicap really. We have to rely on our own resources in any case.”
The Worker December 21st 1978
The CPB (ML) reaffirmed its self‐reliance and its sturdy independence baulked at being little more than a political section of the Albanian friendship society; there were others who did accept the guidance from Tirana.
The CPB ML’s initial pro‐Albanian turn was echoed by the Communist Party of England (Marxist‐Leninist), once the most zealous proponents of “Mao Tse‐Tung Thought”, the organisation sought to prove it was critical of Maoism and the most vociferous opponent of Chinese “social imperialism”. Praise was now heaped upon Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania, as “the foremost Party in the International Marxist‐ Leninist Communist Movement.” It joined in the condemnation of the “anti‐Marxist” Mao in support of the Albanian positions. The adoption of Tirana’s perspective led the Internationalists in Canada, Ireland and Britain to conclude that:
Mao Tsetung, whilst being a revolutionary democrat who led the Chinese people in tremendous advances in their struggle against imperialism and feudalism, was never a Marxist‐Leninist…”Mao Tsetung Thought” was a profoundly anti‐Marxist and revisionist trend” which denied the hegemonic; role of the proletariat in the revolutionary struggle, which substituted eclectics for dialectics, which promoted conciliation of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie and denied the basic character of our epoch.
Workers Weekly March 17, 1979
The CPE (ML) re-launched as the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in 1979, relationship with the Party of Labor of Albania followed in the wake of the conversion of Hardial Bains, leader of the CPC (ML). The cooperation and unity of the two parties was strengthened with the visit in May 1980, a delegation of the RCPB (ML) at the invitation of the Party of Labor of Albania.
Workers Weekly March 21,1981
The relevant adjustments had been made: the previous April, The Marxist‐Leninist Journal carried an issue length article, ‘Mao Zedong Thought: a profoundly anti‐Marxist theory’.
The Marxist‐Leninist Journal Vol. 1 No.3 April 1980
A month earlier, the RCPB (ML) had taken part in the Internationalist Rally held in Montreal on March 30th which celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist Leninist). May 1981 saw another delegation visit Albania; the previous month, on April 26th 1981 saw the founding of the Trade Union Revolutionary Opposition. The RCPB (ML) follow the “Albanian line” and set up organisations (consisting of a few party members) that purported to be revolutionary trade union opposition, whereas Reg and the Party he founded and shaped “held to the line of working in the trade unions, despite pressure from the Albanian leadership.”
Even though the political recognition went to the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) when it denounced its Maoist past and embraced Albanian criticism of Mao and China as its own, it was the Bland-led organisation that retained the friendship franchise.
“After the open break of the PLA with China, the Communist League approached the CPB (ML) suggesting discussions aimed at a unitary party as the CPB (ML) had denounced China and aligned themselves with Albania. In this letter to Reg Birch & the CC, the offer was made to dissolve the Communist League & enter the CPBML as individuals if they wanted to ensure there was ‘no factionalism’. The CPB (ML) did arrange meetings for a period to ‘assess ‘but after a very brief period denied admission. No reason was offered.”
Again, when the RCPB (ML) supported Albania in the late 1970s, it replaced the CPBML as Tirana’s recognised party:
“The Communist League also approached the RCPB (ML) but consistent with the general attitude of the Bains organisations ‐ an olympian indifference and rude silence greeted the approach. They did however then do something remarkable. They approached the Albanian Society and tried to ‘take it over”. This was unsuccessful as the open and non‐sectarian approach of the Albanian Society had been its feature and strength. The membership enjoyed the poetry and the discussion on art, and resisted the attempts to label these as ‘distracting bourgeois diversions’.”
Account by Hari Kumar for Alliance ML cited in High Tide
Little is known of the Albania Society set up by the Communist Party of Great Britain in the1940’s. It ceased to be active once the Albanians began to criticise Soviet revisionism. That is an area of unexplored archives. From the memoirs of one prominent activist, Bill Bland had been consistent in the defence of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania over more than three decades and the building of friendship, we can sketch out later friendship and solidarity with that beacon of socialism.*
Bill Bland (1916-2001), then a Communist Party member, played a key role in re-establishing the Albanian Society of Britain which had the aim of disseminating information about the history, culture, language of that country in Britain. In 1957 he managed to get hold of the old secretary who supplied a list of members, there were only two members left in it one of whom was Ivor Kenna, another character from the UK’s anti-revisionist fringe. Three years later he become secretary of the society, a post which he held almost continuously for 30 years until July 1990 when he resigned because of the restoration of capitalism in Albania. This society which gradually prospered over the years and grew to several hundred members, published a journal, ‘Albanian Life’. Bland edited the Society’s quarterly journal from his home in Ilford, Essex.
Albanian Life, #32 (1985, #2), 52 pages. Memorial issue following the death of Enver Hoxha.
When the Albanian party had come out fairly early against Soviet revisionism, Bland recalls that “I wrote to them congratulating the Party on the correction of its line on Soviet revisionism, and it’s from there the Central Committee invited me to visit Albania for the first time, in 1960.” On his first of many visits, Bland did the filming for the film ‘The Land of Eagles’ shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
Bill learnt the Albanian language which facilitated the translation of varying kinds of literary work which would otherwise have been unknown to the English reading world
“When I first became the secretary of the Albania Society back in the early sixties. My knowledge of languages is basically a visual one. I can translate the written stuff but if someone speaks to me I can’t understand what they are saying.”
He spoke and wrote in defence of the developments in that Balkan nation out of an ideological alignment to the Marxist-Leninist regime. Bland was, in addition, instrumental in the foundation of the MLOB which in 1975 was renamed the Communist League. An example of his political defense can be found here two articles by Bill Bland
Among the work Bill Bland wrote were an introduction to the country, Albania: World Bibliographical Series, Oxford 1988 and co-authored the self-published exploration, A Tangled Web: A History of Anglo-American Relations with Albania 1912-1955, Ilford 1986
Bill recalls the turmoil of the mid 1960s when he was in the leadership of the Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung.
“all the Maoists in the [Albania] Society who had previously been active and supportive began to demand that Bland go on the grounds that my organisation, to which I belonged, had published a report which was anti-Mao Tse Tung and therefore anti-Albanian, and therefore I shouldn’t any longer be allowed to be secretary of the Albanian Society. Instead they organised a faction within the society to get rid of Bland, and at the next AGM they organised a miniature cultural revolution in the society.
The chairman at that time was a Maoist called Berger, she wrote articles on wine, her husband was a leading member of the friendship society with China. They organised this sort of cultural revolution at the AGM whereby a lot of people who had never been members of the society before appeared and demanded the right to vote, and Berger as chairman ruled that they had the right to vote because we were a democratic society and therefore anyone who walked in off the street to vote should be allowed to vote. This was the masses speaking you see. Unfortunately they hadn’t got quite enough people to outvote the other members, and our members didn’t agree with this particular line that it was reasonable grounds for sacking me, and so they lost the vote and I got re-elected as secretary and the Maoists walked out.
They then formed another New Albanian Society which rapidly split into four or five other groups all of which rapidly disappeared”
In 1968 the Albanians recognised the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) run by Reg Birch, and the associated New Albania Society. The policy of the Party of Labour of Albania was for sole recognition so relations with the Bland-led Albanian Society were ended by the Albanians. “We carried on exactly as we had done, sending our literature to them regularly over the next six or seven years, until 1978, the Albanian Party changed its line and came out attacking Mao Tse Tung as being revisionist”
“Albania is a socialist country, we accept that, we don’t agree with their line on this particular point, but none the less we stand for solidarity and support for the Albanian Party of Labour and the Albanian regime, therefore we would continue to support Albania, whatever their attitude to us might be.”
Shortly after publishing the pamphlet Albania: The Most Successful Country in Europe New Albania Society (Dec. 1976), Birch broke off relations with Albania, dissolved the New Albania Society without even consulting its membership. “There were just notices in the post saying ‘as from today the society is dissolved’, full stop.”
Contact was re-established after ten years with the Albanians through the expert on folk music, Bert Loyd who made regular trips to Albania to record folk music, not in his capacity as president of the Albania Society but in a personal capacity. He raised the point that “it was rather ridiculous to have no Albania friendship society because there was no one except for ourselves”
Bland was invited to Paris to speak to the ambassador there, which led eventually to the invitation for a delegation from the Society to go to Albania. There was no mention of what had happened over the previous ten years, no self-criticism although as Bland explained, this was a “matter for the Albanians and not for us really” .
The Bland-led organisation retained the friendship franchise even though the political recognition went to the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) transformed into the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) when it denounced its Maoist past and embraced Albanian criticism of Mao and China as its own in the late 1970s .