Spying on the RMLL & friends

In a follow up to the previous post that looked at infiltration by the state in the revolutionary movement during the flowering of protest in the late 1960s and 70s in Britain saw one element of the security apparatus, Special Branch, have its lens focused upon the newly emergent forces of the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists. The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was a covert unit under Special Branch supervision that existed within the Metropolitan Police Service between 1968 and 2008.  So far the cover names of 45 out of a total of at least 144 undercover officers have been disclosed during the ongoing official Undercover Policing Inquiry. The previous post looked at the released reports of the anonymous clandestine police spy, assigned the designation HN13, on the marginal Far Left Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist). Among the other state agents exposed have been those engaged in spying upon the small if energetic , short-lived Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League led by one of the prominent personalities of the movement, Manchanda.

Constable HN45 “Dave Robertson” served as an undercover police officer engaged in secretly surveillance of London Maoists active in the Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League led by A. Manchanda. Activist Diane Langford, reported on by the copspys, remarked:

“The reason given for spying on us was to gather intelligence about forthcoming demonstrations and possible infractions of public order. The futility of this is illustrated by a demonstration consisting of a maximum of a dozen of us, walking with cardboard placards, in support of Huey Newton in 1969. We were astonished to arrive at Grosvenor Square to be met by at least a thousand uniformed police and row upon row of parked up police vans.” [i]

Although the consensus is that the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign had been a target of DC HN45, “Dave Robertson” joined the RMLL study classes held at  Manchanda’s home, 58 Lisburne Road,  from 1970 onwards, and  report on the Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League and its associated organisation principally the Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front. Testimony at the Undercover Policy Enquiry referred to.

“ a meeting at a pub in King’s Cross. It references, halfway down:  “There was no chairman and the only speaker was  Al Manchanda, who spoke on the subject of ‘Soviet  revisionism and collusion with US Imperialists’.”  And then you conclude with referencing:  “No mention was made of any future activities.”  And the report lists a number of names of people that were present: Al Manchanda, Diane Langford and Sonia Seedo are those that we can see on the page. “ [ii]

Others names were redacted by “privacy” overlays.[iii]

DC HN45 Robertson reported February 1971 on the personal circumstances that Manchanda’s wife worked full-time while he remained at home caring for their small daughter – presented as  a practical experiment in the field of women’s Liberation. He informed Special Branch that Manchanda considered the position of Secretary of the RMLL to be a full time responsibility and awarded himself a small weekly payment of around £4 out of organisation funds. The purchasing power of £4 in 1971 equivalent to £50.31 today.

In her written OPENING STATEMENT to THE UNDERCOVER POLICING INQUIRY, Diane Langford observed:

“HN45 displays a vindictive hatred of Manu and a peculiar obsession with our personal relationship and child-care arrangements. He sent detailed reports to the Special Branch about what he apparently saw as transgressive behaviour – a man looking after his own child – and expressing horror that I was ‘sent out to work.’ He informs his superiors of Manu’s ‘insufferable anecdotes’ about our baby. Strangely, nothing in there about us overthrowing the state machine.

 HN45, ‘Dick Epps’ et al were part of a manipulative, racist endeavour to justify their pay packet by portraying Manu as being an imminent danger to the state, implying he espoused the idea of going on demonstrations only to foment violence. This is utter rubbish. He never had any illusions about the possibility of ‘smashing the state machine.’ On the contrary, he was pragmatic about the possibility of challenging the power of the State head on. His scepticism about the willingness of sections of the white working class to give up privileges derived from colonialism annoyed many on the left and, apparently, HN45.”[iv]

Evidently good at establishing rapport within the group, Constable HN45 was said to have  developed a friendship with Mr Gajawan Bijur, owner of  the Banner Bookshop in Camden, that  since it was opened in 1968, become one of  the principle outlets for the dissemination of official Peking-line literature .

A report to Special Banch stated: “Bijur has recently opened a second bookshop in  Brixton to which he wishes to devote more of his time  and is currently looking for a suitable ‘comrade’ to run  the one at 90 Camden High Street.” It noted that in the course of his penetration of Maoist groups, DC [HN45] is becoming a confidante of Bijur.

“By coincidence, he has asked DC [HN45] of the Special Operations Squad to take it on, or to recommend a reliable substitute. ….Bijur would like the position filled by 14th February, 1972.

What those advantages would be: “(i) It would entrench our officer in Bijur’s esteem and probably make him acceptable in most Maoist circles.(ii) He would become privy to the inner workings and policy of ‘Banner Books’. (iii) He would probably have access to records and mailing lists of persons of interest to Special Branch. (iv) He would be able to provide a plan of the bookshop and would have access to the keys of the premises.”

From his released reports by the UNDERCOVER POLICING INQUIRY we learn of the busy schedule of a newly recruited “political activist “ as HN45 reported on:

Meeting of the Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League held at the Union Tavern, King. Cross Road, C1 on Sunday, 15 November 1970 from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm that was tended by 12 persons. The chairman and only speaker was Abhimanyu MANCHANDA who delivered a long lecture on ‘How the Soviet Revisionists carry out all-round restoration of capitalism in the USSR”.

27th November Camden Studios, NW1, a leaving party for representatives of the Democratic republic of Vietnam organised by RMLL drew 40 people, only about eight were not from RMLL and associated groups. Disapprovingly as several hundred invitation had gone out to the London Left. Manchanda spoke and Diane Langford, representatives from Friends of Korea, Pan African Congress and South West Africa National Union made short remarks. Following this, Gajawan BIJUR spoke and present bouquet of flowers.

On Sunday, 29 November 1970, at Camden Studios, just off Camden Street, about five minutes’ walk from Mornington Crescent Tube station, a public meeting was organised by  the Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League and Friends of China’ to celebrate the 26th Anniversary of Socialist Albania. The meeting which commenced at 7pm and finished at 10 pm. Manchanda was the chairman and only speaker to the audience of 16, one of whom was seemingly from the revisionist CPGB, engaged in a heated argument with Manchanda in the Q & A session.

Planning RMLL activities for the year 1971

January 20th 1971 Wednesday evening meeting to plan RMLL activities (including the Women’s Liberation Front (WLF) and its newspaper “Women’s Liberation”, Friends of China and the Britain-Vietnam Solidarity Front (BVSF) was attended by 14.

A potential move into industrial work saw applications targeted at Fords at Dagenham and the Metal Box co. in North London (principally women and Asian workers). The formation of a WLF branch in the Palmers Green area was to support campaigning at the latter site. Diane Langford was to initiate a more general orientation to women members of the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) in the printing industry through her workplace. (SOGAT now part of Unite)

“The question of regular weekly public meetings, film shows and Other activities were discussed but no firm plans were made. Manchanda was to drew up a calendar. of dates and venues for such meetings and this would be submitted in due course.”

The RMLL were to produce its own journal, scheduled for March to coincide with commemoration of the Paris Commune, with Manchanda as editor who “hoped to get some assistance from the Chinese News Agency. Manchanda was less keen on the suggestion of opening a bookshop favouring RMLL run pop-up bookstalls. Whether there was any consideration by Manchanda of the political relationship and support already sustained by the proprietor of Banner Books to the activities of the group would be speculation.

Political classes for beginners were to continue weekly at Lisburne Road, Belsize Park, North West London, NW3. A monthly weekend school, in addition to weekly meetings, for members was planned to discuss political activities and plan future strategy.

Overlap with other undercovers

The entry of the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase – investigating corporate and police spying on activists – noted that DC HN45 was not alone in surveillance, infiltration and reporting upon the Maoist milieu in London.

“It is notable that a number of the venues frequented by the RMLL, such as the Laurel Tree and The Enterprise Pubs, as well as the Camden Studios, were also frequented in 1969 by another SDS undercover officer John Graham when he was infiltrating another Maoist influenced group, the Camden Vietnam Solidarity Campaign. According to the Undercover Policing Inquiry Graham also reported back on the Revolutionary Socialist Students’ Federation.

A third SDS undercover, using the name ‘Alex Sloan‘, targeted one of the groups that split from the RMLL: the Communist Workers League of Britain, which was behind the Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front and also active in and around Camden. Like Robertson, ‘Alex Sloan’ was deployed 1971 to 1973.

A fourth undercover infiltrated the Women’s Liberation Front, set up by Diane Langford, when in the early 1970s the RMLL developed a focus on feminist issues and the growing women’s liberation movement. The address for the new group was house on Lisburne Road which Diane shared with Manchanda and served as an effective headquarters for the RMLL and its associated groups. In 1972-1973 the Women’s Liberation Front was targeted by female SDS undercover, known only as ‘Sandra’ (HN348).

London 1971

The activism and internationalism that characterised the RMLL was overshadowed by events in October 1971 at the Second National Women’s Liberation Conference in Skegness.

The RMLL’s Women’s Liberation Front, and other maoist-aligned activists were active in the movement but, as Langford recalled,

“The reputation of the Maoists within the Women’s Liberation Movement was rock bottom. Women were trying to develop a new, autonomous movement and we were seen as male-dominated and spouting tired old anti-imperialist rhetoric. In particular, women long remembered the incident at the national WLM conference in Skegness in 1971 when Harpal Brar leapt onto the stage and wrestled the microphone out of a woman’s hand. After that, conferences were solely for women but that didn’t stop some men from trying to gate crash and even assault women attending.” 

The report to Special Branch from its agent HN348 “Sandra”, noted Meysel Brar was chair for part of the proceedings and that fellow WLF member Chris Mackinnon ”made her usual maoist pronunciations” that provoked a  suspected pre-planned walk out of about 150 associated with the Gay Liberation Front. Meysel was said to have continued the meeting “as if nothing had occurred”. The next session proved as contentious when the patriarchal, self-entitled and violent actions of the RMLL member abused and assaulted other attendees:

“A number of persons spoke, amongst them was XXXX. As he left his seat he was surrounded by about twenty screaming women who poured abuse on him. He promptly punched two of them and dragged another along by her hair. He meanwhile poured his scorn on them, describing them as “a queer lot of bitches unfit to be called women let alone members of the Women’s Liberation Movement”, many women left the hall weeping and wailing. On attaining the platform XXXX pointed out he was a member of an affiliated group and had contributed towards the conferences expenses. It would be undemocratic for him or any other man to be asked to leave.” [v]

Unfortunately, within the wider Women’s Liberation Movement this was falsely seen as characteristic of the Maoist approach to the issue. While there was a common position that women’s liberation was a class question, in the constellation of activist groups there was differences that were not always appreciated. So, regretting the dissolution of the broad-based WNCC, the Women’s Liberation Front drafted a letter in November 1971 to go to all groups within the WNCC that stated:

“the usurping of that democracy during the recent conference had been highly irregular” and argued for a reinstatement of the WNCC structure.   [vi]

At Skegness, the first four demands of the WLM were passed

1. Equal Pay

2. Equal Educational and Job Opportunities

3. Free Contraception and Abortion on Demand

4. Free 24 hour Nurseries.

But also the Women’s National Coordinating Committee was voted out of existence, in favour of local and regional conferences and organisation.

The Women’s National Coordinating Committee (WNCC) had been created in 1970 as a coordinating body for the  broad Women’s Liberation Movement  and the groups that were affiliated with it.  An appeal for resurrection from the WLF failed to garner support.  In the aftermath of the negative reputation that spread, a polemical reply was produced by the actual culprits of the ACW’s Union of Women for Liberation. The Hemel Hempstead based group originated in 1969 as a split from Manchanda’s Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League and led by Harpal  and Mysel Brar . Prolific propagandists, the UWL published its version in Lessons of Skegness: a brief account of the proceedings of the Women’s Nation al Co-ordinating Committee Conference at Skegness (October 15-17, 1971) and an exposure of the dirty role of the Trotskyites, revisionists and feminists. Hemel Hempstead 1972] [vii]

https://pasttenseblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/today-in-radical-herstory-1971-londons-first-modern-international-womens-day/

For the WLF Turkish women comrades made a massive banner depicting a woman raising her fist with broken shackles. The Women’s Liberation Front passes through Trafalgar Square on March 6th, 1971.

The police infiltrator, Sandra HN348, reflecting years later on spying on the WLF, told the official judge-led Undercover Policing Inquiry, that she did not believe her undercover work was worthwhile. The inquiry is scrutinising how police used at least 139 undercover officers to spy on more than 1,000 political groups over more than 40 years.  “Sandra”  said she did not see any of the members she spied on acting violently or committing crimes. “I do not think my work really yielded any good intelligence, but I eliminated the WLF from public-order concerns,” she said in her written evidence. Why the police sent an undercover police officer to infiltrate a very small women’s rights group that lawfully campaigned for equal pay, free contraception and better nursery provision, “the officer claimed the group was of interest to Special Branch because of its links with “more extreme groups” such as the Angry Brigade and “Irish extremists.” Morning Star The Women’s Liberation Front had come to attention of the Special Branch unit “through its links with the Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist League”.

“Women’s liberation was viewed as a worrying trend at the time,” said HN348 Sandra.

 “She attended weekly meetings held in campaigners’ private homes that were attended by about 10 people. As she was trusted, she became the treasurer of the group’s main committee, whose meetings were also held in private homes and attended by around five people.

During this time, she regularly submitted reports to her supervisors about the group, documenting details of a possible affair between two activists, plans to bake cakes to raise money, film showings and a campaigner’s holiday to Albania. She also compiled a detailed report on a protest march organised by hundreds of children in 1972 to improve their schools.”  [viii]

One of the meetings HN348 Sandra spied on that concerned the possibility of setting up a national movement of socialist women was only attended by two activists. She reported that attendees of one such meeting in Guildford, Surrey, in June 1972 were “a group of fairly moderate women with no particular political motivation who have recently been campaigning for nurseries in the Guildford area”.  Appearing before the inquiry the now-retired police officer said: “I could have been doing much more worthwhile things with my time.” Sandra told the inquiry she did not think her work had “really yielded any good intelligence” although her deployment helped her superiors conclude that the Women’s Liberation Front did not pose any threat to public order.

Later in life, there was agreement from Diane Langford,

“I found it difficult to comprehend why our puny efforts caused so much concern to the authorities when everything we did was within the law and totally transparent.”

Posters protesting about undercover policing outside the Royal Courts of Justice in 2019. Photograph: David Rowe/Alamy Stock Photo

Suspicions specifically about HN45 Robertson were recalled in Diane Langford’s 2015 political memoir. The account, while amusing is hazy as to when the reported concerns were aired or acted upon by the RMLL.

“From time to time the police infiltrated our group. A moustachioed Scottish man, Dave Robertson, aroused suspicion because he was always driving a different car. When challenged he claimed to be working for a car rental firm. On another occasion he’d told me he worked at a club called the Tatty Bogle. One of the comrades went down to check it out and found this to be untrue. At Manu’s suggestion, we didn’t confront Dave, but assigned him the most onerous tasks: collecting heavy banners and placards in his car and carrying them on marches. He was always called upon to buy everyone drinks and asked to memorise long passages from James Maxton, an obscure Scottish Marxist.”   [ix]

There was a ring-side seat for Special Branch in the fateful split in the RMLL as HN45 “Dave Robertson” attended a meeting was designed for some form of attack and almost to depose the leader, at the Saturday “Extraordinary meeting” March 13th 1971 at Lisburne Road. It was a long meeting, attended by 17 people that lasted from 1.30 in the afternoon to 10.30 at night.

As a bit of light relief, somebody played the guitar and set Chairman Mao’s speech “Take not a needle and a thread from the masses”, and that was sang to the group.

HN45’s note of the purpose of the meeting was: “… ‘to cut down to size’ the organisation’s  leading personality A Manchanda … whose offensive manner, dogmatic attitude, bullying techniques and general inefficiency have become too much for even his admirers to swallow.”

His testimony at the Undercover Policy Enquiry was that “There was a lot of in-fighting amongst themselves that I took no part in”.

He claimed that “I didn’t really get deeply personal with any of those people, I just picked up what I — I found from people at the thing, and just dealt with it and reported it, and tried to put it into some semblance of order”

“Initially, Mr Manchanda [was to take] … the chair but because of the nature of the business to be discussed it was decided that he should vacate the chair, and [so somebody else was] … elected [for]  chairman … [of] the meeting.”  It appears that what then took place is that people gave speeches or discussions and delivered positions from documents that they had prepared in advance, and that they read from documents for some time. Do you recall being asked to prepare something in advance of the meeting?

Absolutely not.

You write there: “Manchanda, in his defence, launched into a characteristic diatribe ….

“… against certain members of the RMLL, particularly [Privacy and Privacy] and spoke for two hours, mainly spent in reading from a prepared statement …”

“The nub of his defence [he says] was that he had nothing to answer; everything had been done in the interests of the organisation and the working class.

You note however that he felt he had to plead IL health in dealing with the accusations during this  meeting, that he produced his diabetics card, that he  referred to the recent birth of his daughter,

“They are not really convinced either that his claim of sending his wife to work while he stays at home is a ‘practical example of Women’s Liberation’, is entirely virtuous.”

“There then followed a general discussion with [Privacy] speaking in Manchanda’s defence. [Privacy] read a copy of a letter she had previously sent to Manchanda making a very personal attack on the private morals of [Privacy] arising from an incident that had taken place sometime previously. This reduced [Privacy] to tears.”

whether or not Manchanda is expelled the damage to the RMLL is irreparable. Apart from Manchanda there is no one with sufficient personality to hold the organisation together and if his critics lose the [Privacy] day they have said too much for him to suffer their continued presence.” 1 A. Yes, I — that’s my — that must have been my view at the time, and I have no — no problem with that.

Ultimately that there was a vote to ask Mr Manchanda and indeed Diane Langford to withdraw from this group. [x]

The March 15th meeting was followed up with 18 people attending another Sunday meeting on the 28th March to resolve the crisis within the RMLL.  [xi] Manchanda again chaired the meeting and read from a five page foolscap prepared speech, “he excused his own short comings by blaming the state of his health and he attacked certain other members…for laziness in their work in the organisation” reported the state infiltrator HN45. The conciliatory offer “to work in co-operation with others” did not withstand the accusations levelled at Manchanda of being a fraud and attacks upon Diane Langford. The differences between he two factions were unreconciled. Evidently there were five supporting Manchanda against an uneasy alliance of remaining dissident RMLL members and supporters.

Agreement to hold a further meeting on April 4th 1971 in an attempt to resolve the political deadlock was agreed. However the several attempts to reconcile the differences failed.

In the immediate aftermath of the split in the RMLL, a Special Branch report (dated May 20th 1971) noted that the dissident group of members continued to operate as RMLL claiming to have suspended Manu and Diane, ending the small weekly wages and assistance with rent and telephone bills. It stated the old RMLL never exceed ten full members attributing this directly to Manchanda’s “closed shop “ practices as the new RMLL refocused on a growth strategy based in West London beginning with Monday night political instruction classes.

The smaller supporters group of Manchanda, including Sonia Seedo, were working under the auspices of WLF hoping to overcome the dissident leadership and regain leadership of RMLL. And refusing to acknowledge their suspension from the RMLL.

We know more than just the police account of the split in the organisation as the internal maneuverings and intrigues of the short life of the RMLL was made public by the polemist Harpal Brar in the ACW attack publication, How Liberalism Split the REVOLUTIONARY MARXIST-LENINIST LEAGUE published in June 1972. [xii]

The ACW emerged, based on the Hemel Hampstead branch, after a split in August 1969 saw half the RMLL membership Leave the organization. With the new split in March 1971, the RMML ceased to function. The disintegration of the RMML was followed by a fallow period in Manchanda’s political activity: it coincided with a period of ill-health.

By August, the dissident faction announced the old RMLL dissolved and some of the former members – Mike & Sharon Earle and Chris & Dave Mackinnon – reconstituted themselves as the Marxist-Leninist Workers’ Association to carry on the political work of the old organisation. It was said to be modelled on the North London Alliance in defence of Workers Rights and received expressions of support from the Black Unity & Freedom Party, Schools Action Union, Marxist Leninist Education Association and Communist Federation of Great Britain (sic). By February 1972, Special Branch received reports that: “ Of the organisations which originally pledged support…only the Schools Action Union have actually done so.” The informant noted that the organisation had not been very active in the political field, not held any public meetings or commemoration since its inception. There had been poorly attended political classes and private meetings. Membership was estimated at no more than 15. Much of the political work has been channelled through the London Alliance of which there was dual membership. [xiii]

Still the wheels of police bureaucracy turned and in May 5th 1972 a report to  Special Branch made the assessment that the British Vietnam Solidarity Front was “virtually inactive since the disintegration of the old Revolutionary Marxist Leninist League in the spring of 1970 which resulted from personal differences between Manchanda and others.”

Since then Manchanda has lost most of his credibility as a political Leader. Attempts to revive the BVSF met with no success when he “did not receive a single reply” when he sent a circular to various people and organisations to support a new campaign against the Vietnam war. Twenty turn up to a public meeting In Camden Studios he arranged; “all were personal contacts”.

Manchanda resiliently persist in campaigning and a further report dated January 18 1973 [xiv] provided details of a private meeting of the BVSF Committee attended by six people to organise for the demonstration against the inauguration of President Nixon with a march to Grovenor Square. It was like old times; every Maoist group in London, including the Internationalists, but not the CPB (ML) would be sending contingents to the Indo-China Solidarity Campaign organised march. Influenced by the Trotskyist International Marxist Group, Manchanda “is desperately trying to unite a maoist front in order to defeat the superior numbers of the IMG” noted the police spy, as they both vie to assert their waning influence.

ENDNOTE  


[i] UCPI Witness Statement 13 April 2021

Information on the state agent HN45 “Dave Robertson” and his activities can be found at https://powerbase.info/index.php/Dave_Robertson_(alias).  HN45 was deployed undercover with the SDS between October 1970 until there was an incident that compromised his cover in December 1973 witnessed by Diane Langford at a meeting at the London School of Economics – when recognised by Ethel who looked straight at him, saying “Scotland Yard coming to arrest us”    Notes from transcript of Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Subsequent unsourced quotations come from the various released file of the on-going Undercover Policing Inquiry.

[ii] Notes from HN45  transcript of Tuesday, 27 April 2021

[iii]  Active in the group was (N.M. (Sonia) Seedo, holocaust survivor and writer; In the Beginning Was Fear  by N. M. Seedo published by London : Narod Press, 1964  & They Sacrifice to Moloch (1967).

Inconstantly, intimate and up-close, Head of Seedo (1965) depicts the Romanian refugee and political writer Sonia Husid, one of Leon Kossoffs’ most regular sitters. Kossoff one of Britain’s most prolific figurative artists of the last century)

[iv] Diane Langford OPENING STATEMENT to THE UNDERCOVER POLICING INQUIRY

[v] Released File UCPI 00000027017 (Name XXXX redacted in released copy)

[vi] File reference UCPI0000027027-CLF  

[vii] Part of the archive of material accessible at the London School of Economics. LSE Archives FHQ/F77

[viii] Researcher Rob Evans noted in his article in The Guardian November 18th 2020.

[ix] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/langford.pdf

[x] Notes from transcript of Tuesday, 27 April 2021

[xi] File reference UCPI0000011742

[xii] see The Rise & Fall of Maoism: the English Experience by Sam Richards. https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/uk-maoism.pdf

[xiii] File reference UCPI0000014360

[xiv] File reference UCPI0000010247

Spying on the CPEml

Infiltration by the state in the workers’ movement has a long pedigree, and within living memory there are numerous examples of the surveillance, manipulation and disruption of independent political organising that challenges the status quo regardless of its political allegiance. The flowering of protest in the late 1960s and 70s in Britain saw a vibrant and varied opposition that attracted the concealed attention of state agents. One element of the security apparatus, Special Branch, has had the lens focused upon its practices when spying on the Left, including the newly emergent forces of the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists in Sixties’ Britain through infiltration by field officers.  The Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) was a covert unit under Special Branch supervision that existed within the Metropolitan Police Service between 1968 and 2008.  So far the cover names of 45 out of a total of at least 144 undercover officers have been disclosed during the official Undercover Policing Inquiry.  The tale of one anonymous clandestine spy, assigned the designation HN13, is an incomplete record through reports submitted on the marginal Far Left Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist). [i]

DC HN13 was an experienced office. He joined the Police Force in the late1960s and the Branch in the early1970s, then approached in 1974 to join the Special Demonstration Squad. Married with young children, there were no disclosures of improprieties involving, as with other undercover SDS field officers, seducing and fathering children of targeted activists. Prior to his deployment the CPEml had a name for headlong rushes into confrontations; whether Barry/ Desmond Loader was acting as ‘agent provocateurs’ is unknown however he was twice prosecuted for public order offences in his false cover name and convicted once. Despite this, the Undercover Policing Inquiry   Chair, John Mitting, stated that there is no known allegation of misconduct during the deployment.

 His widow confirmed in a very brief statement that he stole his cover surname from a deceased child from Wiltshire, and that he had told her of the surname during his deployment into the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) from 1975 to 1978. [ii]

Active in the East London Branch, Loader was also an active member of the Party’s cultural activities offshoot, the Progressive Cultural Association (PCA), and the East London Peoples Front, and the Outer East London Anti-Fascist Anti-Racist Committee. DC HN13’s reports provide a flavour of the activity and demands placed upon the activists of the CPEml in the period he was spying on them. Evidence of hype-activism that brunt out cadre evident in the singular account of attending a social, going back afterwards for a meeting that lasts into the early hours of next morning and then volunteering to provide the materials for a morning leafletting session!

He also filed reports on the activities of the Communist Unity Association (Marxist-Leninist).

Pictured below PCA leader, and CPEml Central Committee member , the composer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981).

Confrontations with the Police

In the 1970s, members of the CPE had a reputation for rushing at police lines in demonstrations, seemingly without strategic consideration, that served to raise the group’s profile in relation to the police – and the CPEml became a target for Special Branch.

Party comrades who were leafleting were ‘brutally attacked’ whilst by the police at a demonstration in East Street market in South East London in 1972. Several received prison sentences.

The CPEml placed the confrontations and violence within an environment of a decaying capitalism:

Whilst increasing fascist legislation, the monopoly capitalists are also stepping up their harassment of working people and progressive organisations. In the last couple of years, large numbers of progressive people have been harassed, intimidated and attacked by the British police. Last December, some supporters of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) were attacked by the London police and planted with drugs, ammunition, explosives and have been committed to trial at the Old Bailey on concocted charges. Comrade Lindsay Hutchinson, an active supporter of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), is at present serving a five year sentence on concocted charges of “malicious wounding” and “assault”. Many other progressive people and Irish patriots living in England have been given jail sentences of up to 30 years on concocted charges. Many workers pickets have been fascistically attacked by the police who encourage strike breakers to break the picket lines and attack striking workers: and working people have been murdered by the police. Is this not violence and terror of the highest order? [iii]

Following a police raid on a ‘house used by comrades and fabricated evidence’, in January 1974, four members of the party were found guilty of possession of petrol bombs and assaulting police. They received 12-month sentences for possession of petrol bombs and were fined for assaulting police.

Also in 1973/74, several party members were arrested for the (again, fabricated) charge of the theft of roof lead, after their car was stopped on Queens Town Road, Battersea.

Given the confrontational experience of members that saw members arrested (and identified) it comes as no surprise that Barry Loader’s reports are peppered with references on proposals by the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) to launch a campaign on behalf of its members on bail for offences arising from various demonstrations, and to organise pickets outside courts such as Redbridge Magistrates’ Court. This defence of democratic rights campaigning prove both time-consuming and energy sapping, with ramifications on the lives of members. Commenting in July 1978 on arrests at an Irish demonstration in Birmingham the previous May, Loader reported CPEml policy was that “although imprisonment is to be seen as a means of taking the political line into prisons, leading members should remain free to carry on their function within the Party.” Adding, “It is also likely that the cost of her appeal will be met from Central Party funds.”

No Platform and Anti-Fascism

In the 1970s across higher education campuses, students launched a number of protests at right-wing and fascist speakers. These incidents in the early 1970s were a ‘prelude’ to what became known as ‘No Platforming’ such speakers.

One well-publicised incident allegedly involved student members of the CPE from Birmingham and elsewhere:

On 8 May 1973, the psychologist Hans Eysenck, whose theories were rooted in the controversial theory of eugenics, attempted to deliver a lecture at the London School of Economics, but faced heavy protests from students. A group of Maoists stormed the stage and assaulted Eysenck.

The CPE (M-L) was also vocal and active in broader anti-fascist politics during the 1970s and early 1980s at a time when National Front was a rising force on the street and sometimes at the ballot box. During this time the NF was successfully challenged on the street by a variety of anti-fascist groups.

In 1974, the CPEml were also present at the Red Lion Square counter-fascist demo during clashes between anti-fascists and the police took place. During this violent confrontation, one protester Kevin Gately received severe head injuries from which he died. Members of the party also gave evidence at the subsequent public inquiry into the incident – which was chaired by Lord Scarman.

Loader reported on people involved in actions against the National Front (NF), such as the organisation of demonstrations, pickets, and leafletting and confronting the NF directly. Barry Loader attended the counter-NF demonstration, the Battle of Lewisham on 13 August 1977. He was injured during the event, receiving a blow to the head – the first of the two times he was assaulted by uniformed police.

Internal Special Branch documents show that Loader met to share his experience and provide recommendations for methods of policing future demonstrations with Deputy Assistant Commissioner along with Peter Collins (HN303), DCI Pryde and DI Willingale following the Lewisham demonstration. [iv]

ARRESTED TWICE & ‘BATTERED’ BY POLICE AGAIN

Loader was arrested twice while in his cover identity. The first occasion, in late 1977, was for ‘insulting or threatening behaviour’ following a clash with the NF outside Barking police station. Chief Inspector Craft of the SDS recorded that Loader was ‘somewhat battered by police prior to his arrest’ [v]

Seven other individuals from Loader’s group were also arrested. Superintendent Pryde maintained contact with a court official during the proceedings in April 1978. He informed them that one of the defendants was a police informant who they would be ‘anxious to safeguard from any prison sentence’ [vi]

Ultimately, the charges against Loader were dismissed. Three of the other seven individuals were found guilty and fined on 12 April 1978 [vii]

SECOND ARREST

Just three days after his court appearance, Loader was arrested a second time during trouble at a National Front meeting held at Loughborough School, Brixton on 15 April 1978.

He was again charged with threatening behaviour under s.5 of the Public Order Act 1936, along with three others [viii]

At the hearing, an application was made to hear all the defendants’ cases together. However, the Magistrates decided to hear Loader’s case alone. This was, allegedly, because Loader had been involved in a separate incident to the other defendants, who had infiltrated an NF meeting while Loader stayed outside.

In fact, records reveal that Superintendent Pryde established contact with a court official during the proceedings and told them that one of the defendants was:

a valuable informant in the public order field whom we would wish to safeguard from a prison sentence should the occasion arise’.

Unlike the previous arrest, however, it is noted that Loader’s cover name was specifically given to the official [ix]

All the defendants, in this case, were found guilty, with Loader being fined and given a one-year bind-over of £100. It is noted in the Minute Sheet that this sentence was considered ‘very useful’ as it would allow Loader to keep a low profile for the remainder of his deployment [x]

It was not all confrontations on days out in the CPEml. Other activities included in loader’s reports map out the activists’ busy schedule of meetings and commitments. From supplying accounts of private meetings of the East London Branch of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) held at Barking Polytechnic, various  planning meetings to small social gatherings, the files of Special Branch were filled with minutiae of undercover intelligence gathering, including the gossip about individuals from CPEml and Indian Workers Movement living together thought worthy of inclusion in Special Branch’s intelligence files, along with reports on individual “comrades”, an active member of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) who failed to attend court on charges of assault, and his efforts to avoid arrest moving to Canada and changing his name. Loader providing a description of his current appearance for the files.

A National Conference of the CPE(ML) on the anniversary of the October Revolution to be held in Birmingham at the YMCA, late October 1977 drew the attention of SDS coordinating with West Midlands Special Branch even though they acknowledged, “There is no public order issue involved”. Photographic surveillance was arranged, it was “hoped that a good identification of national membership and information on the future policies of the C.P.E. -M.L. will result.” [xi]

The attendance was estimated at around 200 and included SDS Field Officer, HN 13 “Desmond /Barry Loader” who was well-practiced on reporting on the CPE (ML).

Among the SDS reports put into the public domain when released by the Public Inquiry included those on open public events, of both the CPEml and its associated organisations (like the Progressive Cultural Association, PCA) when Loader took the opportunity to purloined the contact sheet from PCA events and names were cross referenced with existing Special Branch files [xii]

There were also internal PCA evening meetings, such as that held 15th May 1977 in Belsize Park NW3 attended by 30. Others covered a meeting of the Progressive Cultural Association to discuss its activities in a proposed anti-monarchy campaign.

In July 1977  a report submitted on a meeting of the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) held under the broad front-group name of Outer East London Anti-Fascist Anti-Racist with Indian Defence Committee in Ilford. When that faltered CPEml broad front activities were consolidated in a new organisation, entitled the People’s Front.

By February 1978 Loader reported the CPEml was engaged in a “rigorous self-examination” with the leadership conscious of drift within the organisation.

 The previous Christmas 1977, as an “alternative to the feudal, bourgeois Christian festival”, a national meeting of CPEml had been arranged December 23rd to January 1st. (A not uncommon gesture as another group arranged a Standing Committee meeting for Christmas Day morning!).

Some 60 persons were present in Birmingham (referred to as new centre of CPEml). However, the context of the systematic shift in political allegiance and political identification with the positions of the Party of Labour of Albania are missing from the Special Branch reports. Its historic First Congress was held in 1978. [xiii]

Much of the main address given by Carol Reakes was published as an extract in issue 63 of Workers Weekly. At the previous October 1977 Birmingham conference on Trostskyism, she told members that what was needed was “considerable improvements needed” in the regularly, distribution and study of the paper, Workers’ Weekly. A familiar exhortation on the Left.

 The emphasis on building an industrial base, the organisation of the masses around one party (them), developing a leading role in the anti-fascist/anti-racist struggle and the ‘Bolshevization’ of the CPEml especially in relation to its internal discipline. All these themes occurred at this time across the spectrum of anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist groups in Britain. In London the CPEml’s emphasis was Ford’s at Dagenham.  The more industrially established Communist Party of Britain (ML) was identified as the organisation’s main Left opponent in this period.

What was announced was the formation of the ‘Little Red Guards’, despite the misgivings of a minority, Barry Loader reported to Special Branch that “their inaugural ceremony involved the receiving of a red scarf (to be worn when meeting) an address from Carol REAKES on the significance of their role and the singing of revolutionary children’s songs”. Some 12 children are “believed to be involved” age range 4-10 years.  They will meet on a Saturday “to be given a ‘low key’ political talk in the morning on basic issues, such as evolution and the history of labour in the morning, and in the afternoon taken on an outing to places of interests, such as the docks or a ferry crossing.”

January 1978 saw a joint Indian Workers Movement/CPEml East London branch meeting to “denounce the sham of India’s Republic Day” (January 28th), and after the mobilisation for the “Bloody Sunday Commemoration march, an evening concert organised by PCA at the Trinity Community Centre, East Avenue E12 under the slogan “British Imperialism Out of Ireland!”

Commensurate with significant anti-fascist activity, there was a probable fascist attack on the election headquarters of the South London People’s Front in the 1978 Lambeth Central by-election. Coincidentally, going against the documentary evidence of Barry Loader’s infiltration, the recollection of Michael Chant, the current party General Secretary, was that Loader did not appear until 1978 at election hustings in for the constituency of central Lambeth where Stuart Monro stood under ‘South London People’s Front’. Michael Chant recalled that:

“In the Lambeth Central by-election of 1978, Stuart Monro stood as a candidate representing the South London People’s Front, supported by CPE(ML). A campaign centre was set up in a private house in Stockwell, where mailing out of election leaflets, organising of canvassers, and other activities took place. It was only at this time that Barry Loader […] appeared and offered to help. Given he had no known links to any progressive activity and his general bearing, he was immediately suspected of being an undercover policeman. However, following Lenin’s dictum to put suspected spies to useful, but not compromising work, he was assigned to washing-up duties in the kitchen, large-scale cooking being required to feed the election volunteers. Loader carried out his duties diligently, but was not invited to any discussions or to participate in any planning activities. When the election period ended, he disappeared, and a visit to the address he had given revealed only an empty bed-sit.”

———————-

A post-script to Loader’s career was that a note made of a meeting with Commander Buchanan in 2013 suggests that Loader had difficulty reintegrating with the police following his deployment [xiv]

The successor party to the CPE, the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) were later infiltrated by another SDS officer Malcolm Shearing (alias) between 1981 and 1985. [xv]

E N D N O T E S


[i] These notes on HN13 – known as ‘Barry’ rather than ‘Desmond’ by former CPEml members –  and his activities draws heavily from the work undertaken by  the Undercover Research Portal at Powerbase – investigating corporate and police spying on activists.

Undercover Policing Inquiry released Special branch documents in May 2021 related to the activity of HN13 cover names “Desmond Loader/Barry loader”, an active member of the Special Demonstration Squad (1975-19778) assigned to infiltrate and spy upon the Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) .

Indispensable is the ongoing independent work produced by both Dónal O’Driscoll of Undercover Research Group and journalist Rob Evans on the Spycops.

[ii] Released file  MPS-0740967

[iii] Worker’s England Daily News Release, September 4, 1973 https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/real-terror.htm

[iv] Released file MPS-0732886

[v] Released file MPS-0722618

[vi] Released file MPS-0526784

[vii] Released file UCPI0000011984

[viii] Released file UCPI0000011356

[ix] Released file MPS-0526784

[x] Released file MPS-0526784

[xi] Special Branch memorandum 28th October 1977. Released file MPS-0730696

[xii] Special Branch 8th September 1977 ref:400/76/166

[xiii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.hightide/cpe-historic.pdf

[xiv] Released file MPS-0738057

[xv] https://powerbase.info/index.php/Malcolm_Shearing_(alias)

Research note: Indonesian exile in Tirana, Beijing, Moscow


Draws on material curated by Jürgen Schröder  at the mao-project website, the core information provided in the Wikepedia article, Indonesian Communist Exiles in Albania (2021) and that in an article by Prabono Hari Putranto,  API: An Indonesian Journal of the late 1960s–1970s from Albania . Other sources acknowledged in text. Further documentation available at the Indonesia section of Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line  https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/indonesia/index.htm    e.gJustus Maria Van der Kroef (June 1977). The Indonesian Maoists: doctrines and perspectives. School of Law, University of Maryland.


In Indonesia, in September 1965 the rumours of a coup d’etat being organized by the Council of Generals, indicate that the Army generals will move on October 5, 1965, the national celebration day of Defense.

The so-called September 30th movement against the coup plans of the generals is formed by the communists, under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Untung, the commander of the 3rd Sukarnos’ bodyguard. It goes public with a press release and tries to eliminate approximately 60 generals, but only succeeds with six, rather unimportant ones. Progressive officers with the support of the PKI want to eliminate the ‘Against the People’ side of state power, which leads to a right-wing coup. The PKI then claimed that Sukarno would not allow all communists to be killed. In reality, the chairman of the PKI, D.N. Aidit, Lukman and other leaders of the PKI and the trade unions were amongst those brutally murdered in widespread massacres unleashed by the military.


The Indonesian Tribune published in its January issue (No.3) the self-criticism adopted by the Political Bureau of the Cen­tral Committee of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in September 1966. The self-criticism entitled “Build the PKI Along the Marxist-Leninist Line to Lead the People’s Democratic Revolution in Indonesia”, says that the disaster which has caused such serious losses to the PKI and the revolutionary move­ment of the Indonesian people after the outbreak and the defeat of the September 30th Movement has lifted up the curtain which for a long period has hidden the grave weaknesses of the PKI.

An editorial in Hongqi [Red Flag], No.11, 1967, People of Indonesia, Unite and Fight to Overthrow the Fascist ­Regime, commented

“… the Political Bureau of the In­donesian Communist Party sums up the experience and lessons of the Party in leading the Indonesian people’s revolutionary struggle, criticises the right opportunist errors committed by the leadership of the Party in the past, points out the road for the Indonesian revolution, and lays down the principles for future struggle.” [i]

The Banned Thought website, notes that the PKI self-criticism, republished by Beijing’s FLP in a pamphlet “People of Indonesia, Unite and Fight to Overthrow the Fascist Regime”, (Peking: FLP, 1968), was co-authored by Sudisman, (the fourth-ranking PKI leader before October 1963) assumed the party’s leadership and led the Political Bureau after the murder of the Aidit by the Army during the 1965 massacres.

“Apparently the full document (which is not included in the pamphlet from China) specifically blames Aidit for the revisionist road after 1951 and the resulting catastrophe. But the ideological thrust of the self-criticism is against the so-called Bandung theses, a revisionist line that led to uncritical support of Sukarno among other things. Sudisman himself was arrested by the fascist regime in December 1966, put through a show-trial in 1967-68, and then executed. This PKI self-criticism was publicized internationally, especially by another Political Bureau member, Jusuf Adjitorop, who was based in Beijing after 1965.”

He was in China when the 1965 massacre occurred part of a sizeable delegation that had travelled to the People’s Republic of China to participate in the anniversary celebration of the Chinese Revolution. Others had left Indonesia to study in Eastern Europe, including Albania. Despite the terror inside Indonesia, the party’s skeleton apparatus continued to function in exile.

The PKI self-criticism that emerged from militants in China was distributed internationally, this was publicised in broad terms by oversea ML organisations in the Federal republic of Germany, the  KPD / ML-ZK, summarised the new program as the three banners:


– Building a ML Party free from subjectivism, opportunism and revisionism,
– armed agrarian revolutionary struggle of the people under the leadership of the party and
– revolutionary united front against feudalism, bureaucratic imperialism, based on the class alliance of the workers with the poor peasants under the leadership of the party.  [ii]

In the aftermath of the massacres, revisionist lies and their defamation of the People’s Republic of China was evident in  their portrayal of the counterrevolutionary coup d’état in Indonesia in 1965. In their historical falsification, they claimed that it was the Mao Tse-tung ideas that disarmed the Indonesian Communist Party and then plunged it into a coup adventure. “The tragic consequences of the events of September 30th, which were inspired by the ‘ideas of Mao tse-tung’, showed the damage that Beijing’s adventurous policies can do to the national liberation movement.”

German Maoists protested that:

“The social-imperialists are now unscrupulously twisting the facts and presenting the desperate attempt by progressive sections of the army under Lieutenant Colonel Untung to fend off the counterrevolutionary coup as the real cause of the counterrevolution. We recognize the core of this argument again: whoever leads the fight against fascism is calling fascism on the scene. Anyone who aggressively fights imperialism must reckon with its annihilation by imperialism.

The lesson: If the Communist Party does not prepare itself and the people in good time and on all sides for the path of armed struggle, it will subject the masses to imperialist rule. The Indonesian example shows who is going this way. The lesson that the Indonesian CP itself has drawn from its defeat is just as clear: Maintaining friendship with the modern revisionists’ means giving up the resolute struggle against imperialism. ” [iii]

In addition there was criticism of the Soviet Union’s stance of maintaining a normal and political trading relationship (in much the manner China was criticised for in relation to the military coup in Chile in 1973). The Communist League drew a direct connection when in February 1974, the KB publishes the third revised edition of the brochure “Chile from ‘peaceful transition’ to fascist military dictatorship” with the article “How the Indonesian CP criticized its mistakes after the fascist military coup in 1965” [iv]

 Very quickly a union delegation from the SU arrives in Indonesia in January 1967 “to exchange views on common interests” in the aftermath of the military smashing the PKI’s trade union organisation. The ‘Komsomolskaja Pravda’ in an article on Indonesia (in March 1967 1967) argued , it is early to judge the policies of the new Indonesian government, but if the current leaders see to it that the country does not fall under imperialist influence, Indonesia deserves a leading place in the modern world. “

Following the massacres of half a million people, members and sympathisers of the Partai Komunis Indonesia/Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) by Indonesian military and civilian allies in 1965-6, those communists and progressives aboard wisely stay there avoiding the murderous repression of the Suharto regime that saw between 600,000 and 750,000 people were imprisoned.

For exiled members and sympathizers [v] of the pro-Chinese Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) there was a dilemma of where they should be based to rebuild the opposition to the military regime. Beijing was an option rejected as the dominant view was that neither the Chinese government nor the PKI wished for the party would be perceived as too closely linked to China. The seemingly unlikely choice of the Albanian capital Tirana offered a number of positive possibilities. It was a friendly environment for the PKI who had opted not to condemn the Albanian party at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1961.  The PKI could operate in a supportive political environment, indeed In March 1967 Radio Tirana  broadcasts in Indonesian twice daily. (Radio Tirana discontinued its Indonesian broadcasts in 1991).

Geographically Albania was close to other centres of exiled Indonesian student activists across Eastern Europe. In the early 1960s, scholarships had been offered to Indonesians to study in countries such as Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, the Soviet Union and Hungary and, by September 1965, hundreds of Indonesian students had received scholarships to study in the Eastern bloc.

Tirana was already a destination for Indonesia party members studying and working in the capital. A political presence made clear at the 5th congress of the Party of Labour of Albania (PPSh) in November 1966. The PKI delegation at the congress was led by Jusuf Adjitorop, a candidate member of the PKI politburo before the coup.  He survived the purge of PKI by being in China for medical treatment prior to the coup.

In his address to the Albanian party congress, Adjitorop called for the reconstruction of PKI under the banner of Marxism–Leninism and Mao Tse-Tung Thought, calling for protracted armed struggle of the peasantry to overthrow the rule of Suharto and Nasution. [vi]

According to Prof. Justus van der Kroef there were about forty Indonesian communists staying in Tirana in the early 1970s, around half of them organized in the Persatuan Peladjar Indonesia (‘Indonesian Students Association’). The Tirana-based group were assumed to act as spokespersons of the party. [vii]

An English-language bimonthly journal, Indonesian Tribune, was issued from Tirana. The publishing house of Indonesian Tribune was called Indonesia Progresif (‘Indonesian Progressive’). The Persatuan Peladjar Indonesia (‘Indonesian Students Association’) in Albania published the journal Api Pemuda Indonesia (‘Flame of Indonesian Youth’).

Swie Siauw Poh and Ernest Pinontoean were key organizers of the Tirana group. The writer Chalik Hamid, who had travelled to Albania to study journalism before the coup, was one of the members of the group that produced Indonesian Tribune and Api Pemuda Indonesia and worked as translator for Radio Tirana. He stayed in Albania until 1989.

The account given  to journalist Martin Aleida who interviewed Chalik Hamid, in Tirana,  had API  started by Anwar Dharma, an ex-correspondent of the PKI’s  Harian Rakjat (People’s Daily) in Moscow who had  reported on his unwarranted expulsion by the Soviet authorities due to his critical views towards them (Dharma 1966). Anwar Dharma then moved to China and was instructed by the Delegation of the Indonesian Communist Party in Beijing to go to Albania to start there a publication in Indonesian and in English. After his arrival in Tirana, Anwar Dharma also initiated an Indonesian programme for Radio Tirana. (Chalik Hamid was one of Anwar Dharma’s first contact persons in Tirana, and it was him who taught Dharma to speak Albanian).

Chalik Hamid on his role in Albania suggested it is not entirely correct to say that it was an official command from the PKI as the party was already disbanded. The PKI’s remnants in Beijing at that time, even in the publications of API never called themselves as PKI but as Delegasi CC PKI (‘The Delegation of CC PKI’)  [viii]

“API – Api Pemuda Indonesia” (‘Flames of Indonesian Youth’) had two different editions of API were issued, one in the Indonesian language, the other in English and/or French, both with differing contents and The Indonesian version is published monthly, but the English/French edition bi-monthly.

Indonesian Tribune and Api Pemuda Indonesia were the two main organs of the pro-Chinese PKI. These publications were illegal inside Indonesia, and one could be arrested for possessing a copy

The political ideology of API which was already stated on the title page Marxisme – Leninisme – FMTT is discussed in every issue of API. There is a section called Belajar Marxisme – Leninisme – Fikiran Mao Tje Tung (‘Learning about Marxism – Leninism – Thoughts of Mao’) which usually contains translated works of Marx, Lenin or Mao and sometimes also an analysis of their works.

 The magazine had a section called Komentar Radio Tirana (‘Commentaries of Radio Tirana’) which provided insights about some particular issues which were trending at that time. In March 1967 Radio Tirana started to broadcast in Indonesian twice a day, therefore it seems likely that this section was a highlight of the broadcasting materials of every month. 

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY

Tirana was also convenient for communication with solidarity organizations operating in Western Europe. For example, in the Federal Republic of Germany, solidarity is practiced at universities, for example in Munich (1967/ 1968), later also in Tübingen (1969) and in Heidelberg (1969),

A group, the Indonesia Working Group, in Cologne were active and  Indonesians in Berlin regularly published Mengabdi Rakyat as a bulletin to oppose the New Order regime. [ix] The Indonesian Revolutionary Group (GRI), from Berlin, were students organising in the Federal republic of Germany.

Representatives of the Indonesian youth group in the FRG built working relationship with local German the Marxist-Leninist  K-Groups, Rote Fahne reports their presence In Cologne when the KPD held a major rally at the end of its 1st party congress (June 26, 1974) with 6,000 people.

Solidarity activities in protest to the two-day visit of the Indonesian President Suharto to the Federal Republic of Germany in September 1970 were organised by exiled Indonesians, their supporters and German Maoists such as the KPD / ML local group Frankfurt call for a demonstration , an Indonesia Teach In was organised  in Bonn and awareness raising material published such as  at the University of Tübingen were the student Marxist-Leninist groups distributed an article “The Indonesian people in the anti-fascist struggle “. [x]

The KPD / ML carried an article in Roter Morgen  on “10 years of fascist dictatorship in Indonesia. Heroic armed struggle of the Indonesian communists”. [xi]

Next door Indonesians in the Netherlands, partly due to its past colonial links to the region, had established communities and developed solidarity networks that saw the Tirana produced API distributed by mail to Indonesia; safer to post from non-Eastern bloc states , such as the Netherlands. Daraini’s study refers to several Dutch organizations: Indoc, and an organization initiated by the founder of Indonesian Studies in the Netherlands, Professor Wim Wertheim I (1907-1998) to support the struggle of human rights’ issues in Indonesia under the governance of New Order,    Komitee Indonesië, a solidarity group with the oppressed and democracy activists in Indonesia, and PPI Amsterdam. The latter student organization was renowned for being progressive in comparison with another, similar student organization. PPI Amsterdam at that time published a bulletin called Berita Indonesia (Indonesian News) distributed to various places including Australia and the USA.

Solidarity activities around Indonesia from 1975 became conflated with campaigning on the issue Indonesian aggression in East Timor e.g. Tapol in the UK promoting human rights, peace and democracy in Indonesia, established in 1973 by Carmel Budiardjo, a political prisoner in Indonesia . [xii]

June 1976 saw a three-day international conference on East Timor and Indonesia begins in Bonn: “The organizers were the Journal of Contemporary Asia (Stockholm / London) and the Bonn Committee for the Independence of East Timor.”  [xiii]

The experience of exile elsewhere _ Beijing

The exile community in China was quite diverse and consisted of PKI members and sympathisers, students who had been studying in the Eastern bloc and in the Soviet Union, and pro-Sukarno people. On 30 September 1965, there happened to be a 500-strong Indonesian delegation in China for celebrations of China’s national day, 1 October, which marked the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Chinese Revolution.

Some members of this politically diverse delegation stayed in China but not all. The Beijing contingent grew as many PKI members left the Soviet Union for China due to splits inside the PKI. In China, a separate party leadership emerged, known as the Delegation of the Indonesian Communist Party. Mirroring Sino-Soviet rivalries, the Delegation urged Indonesian leftists in the USSR to join them in China. Hundreds did so. These rival factions were separated by mutual distrust until they each disbanded toward the close of the cold war.

“There were debates among party members about ‘what had gone wrong’ with the PKI, including questions about why there had been no resistance to the military purges. Older PKI members from the pre- Aidit period (before 1951) argued that the party leadership had placed too much trust in President Sukarno and that, by operating wholly as a legal party, the leadership had exposed the membership to grave dangers of political repression. Debates within the exile community in China exposed the inter-generational differences in political experience and these were testament to the growth and development of the PKI as a mass party between 1951 and 1965. The situation led to dissatisfaction among the exiles and added to the uncertainty of their stay in China.”  [xiv]

Taomo Zhou’s study [xv] looked at this issue.

For  members of the Indonesian and Filipino Communist Parties living in China during the Cultural Revolution, political upheavals in their home countries—the September Thirtieth Movement in Indonesia in 1965 and the Plaza Miranda Bombing in Manila in 1972—turned their originally temporary travels abroad into long-term exiles. The rise of anti-communist, authoritarian regimes led respectively by Suharto and Marcos made it unsafe for these exiles to go back and stranded them indefinitely in another land.

The foreign policy pivot at the start of the Seventies saw the 1972 Sino-US rapprochement, and China redirected its foreign policies and retracted its support for foreign revolutionary forces. As China sought normalization of diplomatic relations with Suharto’s Indonesia and Marcos’ Philippines, the exiles’ very existence became an embarrassment to Beijing.

The Chinese government moved them in the early 1970s from Beijing to Nanchang, 1250 km away, the provincial capital of the landlocked Jiangxi in southeast China. Taomo Zhou observed that as for the exiles, many had left for Western countries by the early 1980s. The Indonesians who stayed became naturalized Chinese citizens and some even transformed themselves into devoted advocates for Deng Xiaoping’s “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

Living in Moscow

David Hill has explored the phenomenon of Indonesians living in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) when the military regime came to power in their homeland. [xvi] Moscow was a popular destination for Indonesian students in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the Soekarno regime pursued both socialism and close ties with the Soviet Union.  By mid-1965 when General Suharto seized power in the country and began his purges on communists, several thousand Indonesian students were enrolled in various courses in Soviet universities.

With the rise in Jakarta’s New Order under Major-General Suharto after  October 1965 saw thousands of Indonesians abroad effectively isolated. Faced with detention or execution if they returned home, Indonesian leftists and other dissidents became unwilling exiles. Several thousand Indonesians were then studying in the USSR, where they were one of the largest foreign nationalities in Soviet universities and military academies.

  After the 1965–66 purges in the Soviet Union, as in the Indonesian Students Association in Czechoslovakia (Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia, PPI) there was a split between the pro- and anti-Suharto camps. Those ideologically inclined decided to move to China. The most influential grouping of Indonesians who remained in Moscow after 1965 was known as the Overseas Committee of the Indonesian Communist Party. They echoed the Soviet positions, calling  the KPI line before the coup on September 30, 1965, the Chinese line and advocated the united front with Sukarno and Suharto.   Around 2,000 choose to stay in the Soviet Union. Revisionist supporting Indonesian exiles in Moscow published a Russian-Bahasa Indonesia journal in the 1970s titled OPI, an abbreviation of the organization’s title Organisasi Pemuda Indonesia. The journal focussed on Indonesian politics and the role of young people.

 There were fragments elsewhere and Vannessa Hearman writes of “The last men in Havana: Indonesian exiles in Cuba” . A small group of six Indonesians exiled from Suharto’s New Order regime who settled in Cuba from the early 1970s onwards. [xvii]


[i] See Five Important Documents of the Political Bureau of the CC PKI (marxists.org)

[ii] Roter Morgen No. 8, Hamburg 1970

[iii] Rote Fahne No. 34, Berlin January 14, 1972

[iv] KB: Chile from the ‘peaceful transition’ to the fascist military dictatorship, Hamburg 1974

See also :  Dharma, Anwar (1966): Soviet Revisionists’ Shameless Collaboration with Indonesia’s Fascist Military Regime Condemned. Beijing Review No. 42, 14 October 1966, 30–32

[v] Knowledge of the Indonesian exile communities did not grow until the 2000s attracting some academic research. The life stories of how they found themselves in exile and the social and political issues they faced are appearing in studies

Hill, D. T. (2008). Knowing Indonesia from Afar: Indonesian exile and Australian Academics (pp. 1–13).

Hill, D. T. (2010). Indonesia’s exiled Left as the Cold War thaws. Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 44(1), 21–51. 70

Hill, D. T. (2014). Indonesian Political Exiles in the USSR. Critical Asian Studies, 46(4), 621–648.

Sipayung, B. A. (2011). Exiled Memories: The Collective of Indonesian 1965 Exiles. International Institute of Social Studies.

 Ibnu Nadzir Daraini (2017) Imagining the Homeland: The use of the Internet among Indonesian Exiles in the Netherlands

[vi] Communist and Workers’ Parties and Marxist-Leninists Groups Greet the Fifth  Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania held in Tirana from November 1 to November 8, 1966.  Tirana: The Naim Frasheri Publishing House 1966

[vii] Van der Kroef (1977)

[viii] API: An Indonesian Journal of the late 1960s–1970s from Albania

[ix]  Daraini (2017) p22

[x] Roter Pfeil/ Red Arrow  No. 10, Tübingen September 29, 1970.

[xi] Roter Morgen No. 41, Dortmund October 11, 1975, p. 7

[xii] https://www.tapol.org/news/international-solidarity-movement-east-timor-weapon-more-powerful-guns

See: https://etan.org/ifet/support.html  and https://timorarchive.ca/.

[xiii] Workers’ Struggle No. 83, Hamburg June 28th, 1976, p.47

[xiv] Hearman (2010) p.90

[xv] Reluctant Revolutionaries: Indonesian and Filipino Communist Exiles in the People’s Republic in the Wake of Sino-US Rapprochement

[xvi] David T. Hill (2014) Indonesian Political Exiles in the USSR, Critical Asian Studies, 46:4, 621-648, DOI: 10.1080/14672715.2014.960710.

David Hill,  Emeritus Professor of Southeast Asian Studies and Fellow in the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University in Australia

[xvii]  Hearman V., “The last men in Havana: Indonesian exiles in Cuba”  Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, vol. 44, no. 1 (2010), pp. 83–109.


Peruvian Samizdat

The Peruvian authorities’ legal offensive in December has precedents, there were arrests in a 2014 state crackdown that saw 28 leaders and other activist arrested and some charged with terrorist and drug offenses. The organisation survived and continued to agitate for the rights of prisoners….

“Arrests in Lima” returned to the issue of the Peace letters and Movadet that regarded them as genuine and the beginning point for a recalibrated analysis of political tasks for Peruvian communists.

In the “Chairman’s Politics?” reference was made to announcements and texts issued in the name of the PCP, reflecting support for the strategic reorientation of Movadet that others labelled the Right Opportunist Line ROL. The authenticity and authorship remains uncertain but the coherence of the argumentation suggests a genuine commitment to what they regard as their Chairman’s politics. The earlier four part series, To keep our red flag flying in Peru provided an introductory overview with:

Part 1 – providing sources, both word and web, on the Peruvian struggle

Part 2- An annotated chronology of events

Part 3 – Commentary on the solidarity activities generated after Guzman’s arrest

Part 4 – Documents and texts reproduced of varying viewpoints and analysis.

An unsourced claim in a Norwegian Tjen Folket Media article, argued: Fujimori wished to execute Gonzalo upon his arrest in September 1992, but the Yankee imperialists insisted that this was not tactically advisable. Instead, they needed to use Gonzalo against the people’s war.

Whilst acknowledging the existence of the letter, without accepting it had been authored by Chairman Gonzalo, and recognising the effect of splitting the PCP and causing “enormous confusion and defeatism in the ranks” its analysis is not taken seriously.

 Denounced as a hoax, the position of an unarmed struggle, the analysis of the changed strategic repercussion and arguments to step back from the internal war was quickly dismissed as a betrayal of the revolution.

Loyalists saw such an agreement with a Peace Accord as a means to preserve the Party. That that, what became identified as the ROL, could have originated in the deliberations of Chairman Gonzalo and be criticised as such, had the consequences of militants actually using Gonzalo against Gonzalo.

The militants decided that the armed revolutionary struggle could be continued without the physical governance and decisive political leadership in the conduct of the war of Chairman Gonzalo to guide and direct it. They represented his legacy by drawing on his past instructions and analysis. The loyalists in upholding the Head of the Party followed the new direction attributed to him. These mutually antagonistic wings eventually saw the two-line struggle establish separate organisations both sharing and defending a common heritage, both appealing to the authority of Gonzalo thought for their actions.

A proponent, at different times, of both lines comrade Nancy described it thus:

“This struggle is the most decisive in the history of the Party because a sinister line, the right-wing opportunist line, the bourgeois split line of revisionist essence whose core is a bourgeois military line, opposes the correct course of the class and is the most dangerous line in the history of the Party, therefore that bourgeois split line must be crushed and the split bloc that carries it must be overthrown.”  

Whereas the appearance of new collections by Guzman was welcomed with, ‘long live President Gonzalo’s publication! Unwrap the new moment of unarmed political struggle guided by the Gonzalo Thought strategic, specific and main ideological weapon for the Party!’, from militants there is a generally a silence about the words spoken or attributed to Guzman ever since Chairman Gonzalo’s benchmark “Speech from the Cage” on September 24, 1992:

“We are here in these circumstances. Some think this is a great defeat. They are dreaming! We tell them to keep on dreaming. It is simply a bend, nothing more, a bend in the road! The road is long and we shall arrive. We shall triumph! You shall see it! You shall see it!“

What is reflected in the MPP – Germany site is, in internet terms, a dissident view of the split in the PCP post-1993. Less is heard internationally from the loyalist PCP than overseas-based supporters of protracted people’s war.

Even though the forces that continued the fight has been diluted by political defections in the leadership and rank-and-file desertion, the position of the militants have remain basically the same, expressed again in this 2012 interview with comrade Laura:

“In September 1992, there was the arrest of President Gonzalo and our Party tested in a thousand fights and supported by the undefeated ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Thought Gonzalo, had to face this challenge; in difficult times arise all kinds of monsters, breastfed and sheltered by imperialism, mainly American, as are the revisionists of the “peace  agreement” sheltered in Movadef; these wretched traitors threw into the world, with unbridled efforts, supposed peace, pacification and dialogue, the stupidest idea to poison the class, the masses.”

As the militants tried unsuccessfully to maintain the impetus of the people’s protracted war unleashed a decade earlier, the Gonzalo loyalists new direction kept them in opposition to the Peruvian state as they campaign to shift its hostility and fight its suppression of its civil rights agenda.

Figure 1MOVADEF activists in Lima with a picture of Chairman Gonzalo.

Of Movadef, the organization plays the role of combatting the people’s war by using Gonzalo against Gonzalo according to other self-declared Gonzaloist militants. This criticism is dismissed by the Movadef activists loyal to the imprisoned Guzman and campaigning for amnesty for other PCP militants. Without denigrating the past struggles, speaking in defence at three major state trials of  Guzman/ Gonzalo, Head of the Party and revolution, and in defence of the 1980-1992 Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Gonzalo thought people‘s war, in defence of the Peruvian revolution , they are arguing from a minority position that the

“ struggle for the political solution of the problems derived from the war has guided the general policy of the PCP since 1993 and corresponds to the current development of the contradiction between revolution and counter-revolution that has led to a situation in which neither party can defeat the other definitely. Although the political solution is a necessity for the people, the nation and Peruvian society as a whole, from the beginning there was opposition both from the reaction and within the Party itself, leading to the need to impose it in a long and complex struggle, which continues until now. Part of this campaign is the fight for the freedom of political prisoners, and the clarification of human rights violations at the time of the internal war.”

Voicing the position of supporters of the new direction, who assumed they were applying the just and correct call of Chairman Gonzalo, were two (historic) website , the Movimiento Popular Peru – Alemania  – Some of their  documents were linked in the previously posted THE CHAIRMAN’S POLITICS. More recent postings purporting to being issued in the name of the Central Committee, Communist Party of Peru, and published under the imprint of Ediciones Bandera Roja, can be found at Partido Comunista del Perú 1928 – 2016 (pcp71028.blogspot.com).More documents are available, mainly in Spanish-language editions, with some English and French translations available. Including Guzman’s declaration that “I have nothing to do with Tarata. When will you understand?”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Polish service of Radio Tirana

Radio Tirana International no longer broadcast in Polish. Today the foreign language output is restricted to Turkish, Serbian, Greek, German, Italian, French and there are seven half hour livestream on the internet in English on a daily basis.[i]

It was different back then when you could tune into Radio Tirana broadcasting in Polish in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Polish section of Radio Tirana began broadcasting in September 1966 and in 1967 had daily broadcast of three half-hour programs. Later their number increased to four a day, and from July 1968 eight programs  in Polish for four hours a day on short and medium waves, when the Polish BBC section averaged just over three hours a day.

Monitored by the Polish Ministry of Interior in 1968, their analysis noted Radio Tirana broadcast 197 programs in Polish focused on 265 topics on socialist countries and 74 on different capitalist countries. By 1973, the radio broadcast 248 programs, of which only 43 concerned capitalist countries. Radio Tirana broadcasts were an interesting curiosity; the output of the Tirana-based service also served an anti-revisionist Polish domestic agenda rather than a simply international propagation of the viewpoint of Albanian authorities.

Virtually all broadcasts were readings of texts bristling with rhetorical language of the anti-revisionist movement and a vital source of information for supporters and opponents alike. Broadcasts of the Polish section of Radio Tirana, similar to KPP leaflets and pamphlets, focused on criticizing Polish party and government policy and accused Gomułka and later Gierek for the desire to restore capitalism. It is worth noting that problems and subjects raised on the airwaves by Radio Tirana were often picked up by Radio Free Europe, which also widely informed listeners about the activities of Mijal and the repression of authorities in Warsaw against the Polish Maoists.

Overall, the illegal oppositional Communist Party of Poland, headed by former CC member Mijail , concludes Margaret K. Gnoinska, was a  nuisance for the leadership of the ruling Polish United Workers’ Party (PUWP) domestically, and had a certain effect on international politics complicating  reformist First Secretary Gomułka’s delicate diplomacy with both Beijing and Moscow.[ii]

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is km.jpg

Mijal had became the Polish embodiment of anti-revisionism within the international communist movement; he defended Stalin and his legacy and joined those communists who rejected a pro-Soviet orientation, thereby aligning himself with China and Albania. Maoist thought did resonate to some degree with the younger generation of Polish communists who also saw it as a means of challenging the Kremlin’s control of Eastern Europe.[iii]

The authorities propaganda attempts to discredit the KPP centre on Mijal himself: “ Only the sympathizers of communism in the Chinese edition, such as publishers of the La Voix du Peuple communist Belgian communist authority, treated the Mijalists with full seriousness”. [iv]

In April 1967, the Polish service of Radio Tirana broadcast the KPP’s “To fight in defense of socialism against the revisionist agent of imperialism.” Broadcasts often coincided with the physical distribution of pamphlets reported by radio Tirana , e.g. “KPP is fighting and calling for battle!” or “I lost the compass of Marxism, or Polish paths to socialism.” The latter was so extensive promoted that in May 1968 it was read daily for 10 consecutive days.  The co-ordination of the propaganda offensive between Albania and the communist resistance inside Poland was seen as part of the internationalist struggle against modern revisionism by the Albanians and others.

Polish journalist Micheal Przeperski noted the importance given to current political comments and the anti-Semitic prejudices in the KPP commentary in his article on theAlbanian adventure of comrade Mijal[v]

“ On the events at the University of Warsaw of March 8, 1968, Tirana said: “Students’ speeches in Warsaw cannot be detached from the general political situation in the country, which is difficult, nor can they be called hooligan, because these accidents are deeply social ( …) not the youth, and the party is responsible for this tragic spectacle. ” At first glance, it might seem that the KPP supported the victimized students. Nothing could be more wrong, because it was further stated: “Who are the students defending? Student manifestations (…) are organized from the outside in order to maintain the largest group of Jewish nationalists and their supporters in leadership. “

This was all the more surprising because a few months earlier, in October 1967, Radio Tirana talked about the agent’s role of “Zionist elements exercising power in Poland together with Gomułka.” Thus, the Jews were simultaneously with Gomułka and against Gomułka, and always against vital national interests. This confusing rhetoric brought the KPP closer to the anti-Semitic faction of the so-called partisans within the PZPR. The latter, however, have never allowed themselves to openly question Gomułka’s leadership.

And this was the comment on the entry of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia in August 1968: “An armed assault carried out at night on CSR bears barbaric fascist aggression.” But this time, in no way meant any support for the ideals of the Prague Spring, whose leaders were described as “Dubček’s counterrevolutionary clique.”

Programs presenting letters from listeners from the country were important for every medium broadcasting from abroad, highlighted because they presented evidence that the station was listened to in the country. On the other hand, letters signed by “communists and honest Polish workers”, using exactly the same phraseology as the editors from Tirana, raised considerable suspicion. It should be noted that not all letters from readers were written by the editors.  If a letter containing a lot of details that made them credible, from “a certain comrade from Lodz”, read in December 1967, described the story of Zygmunt Kępa, “a pensioner and old revolutionary”, sentenced to three years in prison for distributing KPP brochures and appeals. The author pointed out not only a positive hero, but also villains. Judgment was issued by judge Halina Michalak and jury members Jan Minister and Leon Kamiński, and the prosecutor was prosecutor Kazimierz Masłowski, with whom he cooperated with SB provocateur Władysław Karbowiak.

Supporters of the KPP had indeed sent critical opinions to Albania about the situation in Poland. An example of operational elaboration may be used as an example codenamed “Radio”, founded in January 1976 by the SB in Sieradz.

The state response promoted by an anonymous letter addressed to Tirana and sent from Łódź became the reason initiating multi-track surveillance reaching hundreds of people. The letter’s writer described himself as a member of the CPP and “critically ascribed the People’s Republic of Poland” authorities for wanting to introduce capitalism in the country “using fascists methods of operation. “

The Ministry of Interior staff suspected that the sender of the letter could have been someone inhabiting the Sieradz province, and began a complicated operation to detect it. In its course to determine and identify the alleged KPP supporter, they designated 317 people who could be potential writers of the letter, They searched about 2,000 applications and complaints in terms of analysis of the convergence of the nature of the letter, and for the same purpose reviewed about 22,000 applications for permission to use a radio and television set. Despite SB officers’ efforts they were unable to identify the author of letter.  [vi]

Kazimierz Mijal, secretary general of the KPP, in February 1966, illegal left the Polish People’s Republic, with an Albanian diplomatic passport in the name of Servet Mehmetka. In exile in Tirana, Mijal was in contact with Poland. He controlled the underground KPP, published the paper “Czerwony Sztandar” that was smuggled back into Poland and most accounts state, he began to run the Polish program of Radio Tirana. However Robert Mazurek, talking with Kazimierz Mijal in May 1998, asked:

– Albanians were very interested in Poland at the time, and founded the Polish section of Radio Tirana.

They used my materials there sometimes. When I lived there, I gave them an interview once, but I had nothing to do with them.

An incredulous reply from Kazimierz Mijal when his name became synonymous with the broadcaster.

A harsh but not unfair judgement was that in practice Mijal did not manage to garner support among the workers in Poland and thus did not further Beijing’s ambitions of fomenting a radical revolution in the Soviet bloc. His efforts were eventually silenced by the Polish security services on instructions from the party.[vii]

In Poland, the state had more success in neutralising the banned KPP whose organized groups were active in Warsaw, Wrocław, Łódź, Katowice, Pabianice and Żyrardów . The state managed to introduce agents into the KPP. Several active members were arrested and sentenced to several years in prison. By the mid-1970s as a result of State security operations under the code name “Znak”, the KPP was shattered and its activists forced to cease operations.[viii] Although reports appeared announcing its dissolution in 1972, Mijal continued to issue pronouncements and commentaries in its name as did Radio Tirana.


ENDNOTES

[i] http://rti.rtsh.al/chi-siamo/

[ii] Margaret K. Gnoinska (2017): Promoting the ‘China Way’ of communism in Poland and beyond during the Sino-Soviet Split: the case of Kazimierz Mijal, Cold War History, DOI: 10.1080/14682745.2017.1362394

[iii] See: Which East is Red? – Andrew Smith

[iv] See: “We Present Kazimierz Mijal” published by FBIS, East Europe Report February 2nd 1985   JPRS-EPS-85-017   

[v] Taken from Michael Przepererski  “Albanian adventure of comrade Mijal” Polityka , October 2nd 2012

[vi] Taken from Przemysław Gasztold ,Maoism on the Vistula? Activities of the Communist Party Of Kazimierz Mijal , memory and justice 2 (32) 2018

[vii] . Gnoinska (2017)

[viii] Jakub Kryst: A hard – headed adventurer , ” Focus Historia “, No. 3 (38) from 2010

135. Rojas, an early adopter

In exile in London, Dr. Oscar Róbinson Rojas Sandford made his name as a specialist in the political economy of development teaching as a university lecturer eventually at University College London UCL. He established online an economic database, The Robinson Rojas Archive, a potpourri of articles, lectures, links on planning for development covering ethics, development, economics, global financial crisis, Dependency Theory, Imperialism, capitalism, economic, terrorism, globalization, sustainable development, poverty, and sustainability. This text draws upon material at the Róbinson Rojas Archive – http://www.rrojasdatabank.info .

He makes available to download work from the last century when a political activist in Chile, then a contributor to Causa Marxista Leninista (first published in May 1968). A former colleague of Jorge Palacios, Rojas was in the leadership of the PRC-ML before the 1973 military coup drove him into finally into exile in the UK.

Rojas had been a Santiago crime and military affairs reporter who also edited a Maoist magazine. Like many Chilean leftists, he was unhappy as early as 1971 with the slow pace of Allende’s march toward socialism. He said so then and he said so in a book he terms an “accusation.” Rojas’ book was largely written in Santiago’s prison where he was held after the Pinochet coup. Besides those who already stand accused—the CIA, the U.S. State Department, his country’s upper classes and military—he accuses the Pentagon for THE MURDER OF ALLENDE and the end of the Chilean way to socialism.

 As equally noteworthy was that because of his political allegiances, he was an early researcher on the restoration of capitalism in China. The political conclusion, in a nutshell that does no justice to his own experiences studying in China or depth of research work, is that:

Between October 1976 and late 1978 the Chinese socialist path to development was stopped and then dismantled by the counter-revolutionary members of the Communist Party who staged a coup-d’etat in late 1976 to reverse the revolutionary process evolving since 1950. This coup d’etat was the last battle in a civil war started in 1966, when the new communist ruling class in China was challenged by part of the industrial workers, students and peasants and a section of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Leaders of the new ruling class were Liu Shao-chi (then president of China), Chou Enlai (then Prime Minister of China), and Deng Xiaoping (then second in command in the political bureau).Between 1966 and 1976 this civil war was known as the “cultural revolution”.


From the same archive the Spanish language edition of Rojas’ China, una revolucion en agonia (Barcelona: Martinez Roca, 1978) is available to download.

China: A revolution in agony / Robinson Rojas

 A necessary explanation This book is the first fruit of a thirteen-year investigation that began in late 1964, when I first came into contact with citizens of the People’s Republic of China at the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,military prison. Since then, three stays in that nation -which coincided with the beginning of the proletarian cultural revolution in 1965-1966, the crisis in the power struggle between Lin Biao and Chou En-lai in 1970-71, and the dramatic outcome in 1974-1977, which includes the deaths of Chou En-lai and Mao Tse-tung and the anti-Maoist coup d’etat led by Hua Kuo-feng and Teng Hsiao-ping in October 1976 – have endowed me with an experience ‘on the ground’ more or less complete on the contemporary development of a revolution that agonized for two decades.

This book aims to demonstrate that:

a) a new ruling class has taken over Chinese society : the civil-military bureaucracy that emerges triumphant in a socialist system when the proletariat is unable to maintain and consolidate that system;

b) The Chinese revolution was a national-democratic revolution led by an alliance between the peasant petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat, which, when trying to go to the socialist stage, gave rise to a struggle between attempts to “proletarianize” or “gentrify” (bureaucratize it);

c) The Chinese Communist Party did not develop until it became the vanguard of its proletariat, and only reached the level of a political organization of alliance between the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat, where, naturally, the struggles for power, from the Yenan era, they took the form of a “struggle” to “proletarianize” the party on the one hand, and to transform it into a bureaucratic, managerial organization at the national level , on the other hand, by the petty bourgeoisie that occupied key positions in the communist hierarchy;

d) the political leaders of the Chinese proletariat did not live up to their task, and left this class to their fate at the time that it could have won its most important battle for power, in 1967. In this sense, it can be affirmed that the Chinese are a people betrayed by their leaders;

e) the combined action of the above factors, plus the pressure of the ideological-economic reality of a model of society in which the Asian mode of production was valid for two millennia, with all the pressure that the habits, customs and conception of the world that this entails, especially with the divine character component of the “protective State”, have given rise to a new social system of exploitation of the great majority by a tiny minority, with a police State that seeks, within the structure facistizing petty-bourgeois thought, the creation of an almighty nation that, to be so, not only does not hesitate to betray anti-imperialist revolutions contemporary, but also enters into an open military and economic alliance with what is generally, from the Marxist angle , called “North American imperialism”.

It was not an isolated event, for example, that of February 28,1976, of which the United Press International, in a dispatch dated in Guangzhou, reported as follows: “Former President Richard Nixon arrived in this southern Chinese city on Saturday and received the greatest welcome from the Chinese people so far … Tens of thousands of students and workers tumultuously celebrated Nixon and his wife Pat along the route between Guangzhou “White Cloud” Airport and the Guest House in the heart of the city ​​… Secret service agents and members of Chinese security had to pluck the ex-president and his wife from the tumult , who almost fell to the ground in the middle of the crowd …After being led a few yards from the crowd, which was waving and clapping enthusiastically, Nixon turned to one of his interpreters and said, “How do you say ‘thank you’?” When the Chinese words were spoken to him, Nixon raised his hands with the V sign and shouted, “Sie sie.” The crowd applauded and howled even louder… “. Nor was it an isolated point of view expressed by the Chinese army unit 8341, in charge of the guard of the central committee , when in October 1976, in an article collectively written in “Renmin Ribao“, in tribute to Mao Tsetung , now deceased, he said: “Respected and dear Chairman Mao … You frequently gave us plum plants, sunflower seeds , fruits and other things that were presented to you by foreign guests and the popular masses, and you also offered us white pumpkins and potatoes that You grew yourself … When you received mangoes, watermelons, or noodles from foreign guests and the masses, you used to say, “Take them to the fighters on call, they do hard work. ” Both things are the product of the same task already fulfilled by the civil-military bureaucracy that took power in China: that of refining cultivating the mental habits of a static society for centuries, controlling information, transforming the study of Marxism into a caricature, making socialism an imitation of the old imperial hierarchy, creating a cult of personality to transform Mao into the emperor-god -and therefore, a part in the game to prevent the proletarianization of the revolution-, and thus get to the point in which they managed to convince broad sectors of the people that ” US imperialism” is now a fighter “revolutionary” and ally of the “Chinese people” to “liberate humanity”. Similarly, his funeral corps’ funeral tribute to Mao tastes of “central empire” where foreign “heads of state” bring tribute in kind, which the good-natured god-emperor hands out generously to his subjects. What has happened in China? What has happened in a society whose people waged a bloody civil war to liberate themselves, managed to get out of misery and made the creation of a just society a reality, by performing feats in the tasks of production and collective well-being? Perhaps a text written on April 6, 1966 as an editorial in “Renmin Ribao“, when the proletarian insurrection wanted to destroy the military civilian bureaucracy, clarifies that question: “In the old society, the relationship between men in production and at work it is the one that exists between the ruler and the dominated. In socialist society, the transformation of private property of the means of production in public ownership radically changes this type of relationship … and replaces it with one of equality, mutual aid and cooperation among ordinary workers. But this new relationship does not automatically occur with the transformation of the property. The old systems of administration left by the bourgeoisie, the precepts and formulas copied from abroad, the influence of bourgeois and feudal ideas , as well as the strength of all kinds of habits, hinder the establishment of the new relationship between men under the socialist system.

“In socialist society, the new relationship between men is manifested in a concentrated way in the relationship between the cadres (officials) and the masses. The cadres at all levels of the Communist Party and the State are servants of the people and not gentlemen astride their backs. Between party and state cadres and the masses, the only distinction is that arising from the division of labour, and there is no distinction between high and low, superior and inferior. The cadres must be found among the masses as common workers and should not enjoy any privilege. In order to fully implement this principle it is necessary to put the proletarian policy, strictly applying socialist principles and solving this problem ideologically and through systems and regulations, completely changing the relationship between men in production and work left by the old society. OTHERWISE, IT COULD HAPPEN THAT THE PICTURES WILL USE THEIR POWER TO POSITION IN A PRIVILEGED POSITION AND TAKE MORE THAN DUE, OR EVEN COME TO COMMIT PECULATES AND MALVERSATIONS AND USURPR THE RESULTS OF THE WORK OF OTHERS. THE RESULT WOULD BE THE RISE OF A PRIVILEGED LAYER AT THE DETRIMENT OF THE SOCIALIST PROPERTY OF ALL THE PEOPLE AND THE SOCIALIST COLLECTIVE PROPERTY … THE SOCIALIST PROPERTY OF ALLTHE PEOPLE AND SOCIALIST COLLECTIVE PROPERTY WILL GRADUALLY TRANSFORM INTO SOMETHING SUPERFICIAL AND, IN FACT, DEGENERATE IN PROPERTY OF THE PRIVILEGED LAYER. SUCH ALTERED FORMATION OF THE PRODUCTION RELATIONS BETWEEN OPERATORS AND EXPLOITED CREATES THE FOUNDATIONS FOR A NEW STRUGGLE OF CLASSES OF ANTAGONIC NATURE. FROM THIS IT IS GIVEN THAT, IN A SOCIALIST SOCIETY, AFTER THE SOCIALIST TRANSFORMATION OF OWNERSHIP OF THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION IS FULLY COMPLETED, THE PROLETARY POLICY MUST ALSO BE PLACED IN THE FIRST PLACE, TO GRADUALLY DEVELOP A NEW MEN IN PRODUCTION AND WORK AND PREVENTING THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW PRIVILEGED LAYER. ONLY SO IS IT POSSIBLE TO CONSOLIDATE AND DEVELOP SOCIALIST PROPERTY, EXTRACT THE ROOTS OF REVISIONISM, AVOID THE RESTORATION OF CAPITALISM AND ENSURE THE CONSTANT ADVANCE OF THE SOCIALIST CAUSE.”  Ten years after this editorial was published, the privileged layer gave a coup d’etat and it was seized with all power in China. In November 1977, the Military Museum in Beijing inaugurated its “restored” exhibition halls. To close the exhibition, a huge photograph of Mao Tsetung shaking hands with Richard Nixon, a second time in 1976. In the time since the first time, in 1972, the former president of the US had ordered the sowing of corpses on Vietnamese land and Cambodian soil, and had put into the government of Chile, through the murder of its constitutional president Salvador Allende, a group of soldiers who methodically dedicate themselves to killing those who are even suspected of “Marxists” and to establish a brutal dictatorship that has earned the abhorrence of the world; furthermore, he had been forced to resign from the presidency of the United States, ignominiously. However, the task carried out by the civil-military bureaucracy has not been complete. Proletarian sowing in the Chinese revolution has not been sterile. And currently, underground, clandestine and heroic, there is opposition and there is a fight against the new mandarins of the former imperial palace: fight for freedom and to build a society where no one feeds on the misery of others.

ROBINSON ROJAS                                  December 1977


Related work that can be found at the archive include

Notes on class analysis in Socialist China 1978

Class stratification in the Chinese countryside – 1979

The Chinese attempt to build a socialist society (notes) 1997

Notes on Chinas Painful Path to Capitalism 1997

The other side of China’s miracle: unemployment/inequality) 1997

 

A working note~ MLLT

Tigrai [i] : Enver’s little known admirers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

 

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

Posted at Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

 

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

The Fifth Architect?

The published works of Enver Hoxha in the Albanian language amounts to 70 volumes. His “Selected Works” is contained within six volumes of various language editions. Separate version of speeches, conversations and articles are available and there is internet access to ENVER HOXHA International archive, now in 26 languages.

Books in Hindi, in Punjabi language, in Icelandic, Danish, and in Russian.

Figure 1 Books in Hindi, in Punjabi language, in Icelandic, Danish, and in Russian.

“Works of Comrade Enver are creative application of universal truth of Marxism-Leninism of the immortal teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin in particular conditions in Albania. They are the greatest treasure in the revolutionary experience of the communist movement in Albania. They serve at the same time an important contribution to the further creative development of Marxism-Leninism and to the strengthening of the international communist movement”[i]

“… No one like him defended with such revolutionary pathos at any time and under any circumstances the situation of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin from opportunistic perversions.
No one like him exposed the social-imperialist and social-chauvinistic policies and activities of the Titovites, Khrushchevites and other renegades … ” [ii]

Going down the rabbit hole again….. The question you may never have asked is when did Hoxahism emerge? In 2001 Wolfgang Eggers, self-identified Chairman of the C P Germany [ML], stated:

 “We, as Marxist-Leninists all over the world have finally and urgently to put the question: Is Comrade Enver Hoxha the 5th Architect of Marxism-Leninism, yes or no?” Wolgang Eggers has laid out the case in tens of thousands of words on why “finally 16 years after the death of Enver Hoxha we decided to call him the 5th Architect of Marxism-Leninism“.

the Architects

the Architects

Eggers authored the study What is Stalinism_Hoxhaism? and runs the Comintern (SH) website that promotes that very concept. He writes a lot on the subject so his position is not in doubt:

it`s the crucial key-question of our new century, in which general direction the international revolutionary class-struggle will continue to develop, a question of necessary decision, where the ideological demarcation-line has to be drawn

So What is Hoxhaism?

“ a variant of anti-revisionist Marxism–Leninism that developed in the late 1970s due to a split in the Maoist movement, appearing after the ideological dispute between the Communist Party of China and the Party of Labour of Albania in 1978. The ideology is named after Enver Hoxha, a notable Albanian communist leader.”

According to this entry in Wikipedia it was formed in 1978, announced in the publication of “Imperialism and Revolution!”

That date is disputed but we will return to that later.

In 1977, Albania began to publicly if indirectly distance itself from Chinese foreign policy, clearly exemplified by the lengthy Zëri i Popullit editorial, “Theory and Practice of the Revolution”. The editorial, written by Enver Hoxha in the third person but not signed, implied — without mentioning China by name — strong criticism of the thesis of the division of the world into three groups of countries — super-powers, developed countries and developing (or “third-world”) countries — and furthermore castigated the policy of seeking bourgeois allies in its struggle against the world influence of the Soviet Union as being a deviation from the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the class struggle.

At the 7th Party Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, Enver Hoxha stated during the analysis of the current international situation and the occurring revolutionary processes:

The world is in a phase where the cause of the revolution and the national liberation of the peoples is not only and ideal and a perspective but as well a problem which has to be solved.”

This thesis of principle importance is based on the analysis of imperialism, and the nature of the present historic epoch provided by Lenin, the 7th Party Congress of the PLA was a reaffirmation against the “three Worlds theory” of the Marxist-Leninist strategy of the revolution under the current circumstances. [iii]

By the following year, however, the break became an open one with the publication and translation into numerous foreign languages of Enver Hoxha’s book, Imperialism and the Revolution, which not only took issue with the “theory of three worlds” but criticized Mao Zedong Thought as an “anti-Marxist theory”.

Not all agree – if you consider that Mao Zedong was the leading Marxist of the age, then it is not surprising that the Albanian positions were regarded as championing a new revisionist, opportunist current directed at Mao and in fact challenging the communism, which Mao upheld.

For instance, the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain saw the Party of Labour of Albania as a New Centre of Revisionism”. The Norwegian marxist leninists, AKP(ml) once strong defenders of Albania and the PLA were critical of the attacks upon both China’s foreign policy and those that developed to target Mao. Three instalements on the open Letter of the CC of the PLA (July 1978) were published in the AKP (ML)‘s English language International Bulletin, Class Struggle: Letter from the AKP (M-L) to the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania[iv].

In 1973 Hoxha himself said in a message to Mao on his 80th birthday, “you further developed and creatively enriched Marxist-Leninist science in the field of philosophy, the development of the proletarian party, the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle and the struggle against imperialism, and the problems of the construction of the socialist society. Your precepts on continuing the revolution under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, so as to carry socialist construction to final victory and bar the way to the danger of the restoration of capitalism, whatever form it takes and wherever it comes from, constitute a valuable contribution, of great international value, to the theory and practice of scientific socialism. Your works are a real revolutionary education for all Marxist-Leninist and working people.” [v]

There was never really an explanation why the Albanians themselves were so hopelessly confused by Mao and such “anti-Marxist” theory that they adopted large portions of it or, worse still, they recognized it all along but were willing to help promote this “revisionist” line on revolutionaries around the world. Instead there is the belated assertion, with scant evidence provided, as in the foreword to the first Albanian edition of  Imperialism and the Revolution:

….At its 7th Congress, our Party exposed all the different revisionist currents, including the Chinese theory of “three worlds”. …. it resolutely rejected the bourgeois-opportunist theses and views on the present stage of the world historical process, which repudiate the revolution and defend capitalist exploitation, and emphasized strongly that no change in the evolution of capitalism and imperialism justifies the revisionist “inventions” and fabrications. Principled criticism and ceaseless exposure of the anti-revolutionary and anti-communist theories are absolutely necessary to defend Marxism Leninism, to carry forward the cause of the revolution and the peoples, to demonstrate that the theory of Marx Engels, Lenin and Stalin is always young, and remains the unerring guide to future victories.”     [April 1978]

The Albanian position presented a stark choice as it cleaved at an association that had developed over a decade and a half, challenging the young anti-revisionist organisations to choose between its analysis and that of the Chinese authorities. Personified in Enver Hoxha’s writings was a call essentially based on the promotion of the ideological orthodoxy of Marxism-Leninism. [vi]

enverA relatively modest appraisal comes from the internet blogger, Expresso Stalinist:

All these criticisms made by Enver Hoxha and his defence of Marxism-Leninism throughout his life are not a simple repetition of the sum of this scientific doctrine until then. On the contrary, this defence involves efforts of renovation/development of this science on the basis of actual facts and phenomena. This is what Enver Hoxha did in a simple and modest manner and this is what makes him more valuable. The international working class and every communist will not forget Enver Hoxha. They will defend him against all attacks in a determined way and hold on to this great son of the international working class.[vii]

The blogger, the Finnish Bolshevik regards Enver Hoxha straight-forwardly as

“a great Marxist-Leninist & anti-revisionist. His works are a valuable contribution to anti-revisionism and the practical application of Marxism-Leninism. This ought to be recognized by every communist.”[viii]

Indeed, Hoxha considered himself and his thoughts, and most Hoxhaists regarded themselves as pure marxist-leninists, not ”hoxhaists”. Hoxha never sought to create a new “ism”. As superfan Wolfgang Eggers elucidated in 2001, “There were no different »new principles« he found out, but he came to new conclusions and cognition under the changing conditions of the society in his time. One of the most important lessons of Marxism-Leninism is not to defend it in the sense of conservation but in defence of the achievements, the valuable experiences of socialism in the Soviet-Union and Albania to apply to it to ease the future way of world revolution, to finish October Revolution successfully.“ [ix]

Strangely, and this applied in most of the industrialised world, some of these groups, which had been among the most zealous proponents of Mao Zedong Thought, would compete with each other to prove who was the most critical of Maoism and the most vociferous opponent of Chinese “social imperialism”. See the publications posted on the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line, at U.S. Marxist-Leninists Take Sides: the China-Albania Split.

Hoxhaism, in whatever presentation, did not emerged in the last century but has become a self-identifying category in this century. However within the “Hoxha camp” there was a lack of unanimity with the construction of competing international allegiances after the collapse of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania in 1992 and a couple of supportive blog postings suggest alternative dates for the birth of Hoxhism.

Leaning towards the late 1970s, one blogger observes

“Although Enver Hoxha had been the leader of socialist Albania since 1941, the ideological branch of Marxism-Leninism known was “Hoxhaism” did not technically emerge until the late 1970s. It was during this time where Hoxha and Mao officially weakened relations, Hoxha believing Mao to be a revisionist. Relations to China were cut furthermore after Mao’s death in 1976, where the new leaders of China were even more openly revisionist than ever” [x]

Whereas, another self-identifying Hoxhist-Stalinist argues that it was formed in 1948, starting from the critique of Tito’s revisionism :

​“With the struggle against the social-chauvinist Yugoslav (first revisionism in power), Stalinism became the basis of the development of Hoxhaism. Beginning with the struggle against Yugoslav revisionism, Hoxhaism developed as the world-proletarian, ideological weapon for the fight against the global spreading of modern revisionism at power. Thus, Hoxhaism arose when modern revisionism was already in power for the purpose to liquidate the new Marxist-Leninist world movement and to destroy the last socialist country – Albania. Hoxhaism developed as a self-contained theory and tactics for the defense of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the anti -revisionist and anti-social imperialist struggle of the world”

Furthermore the anti-revisionist, international character of Hoxhaism appeared with Enver’s speech on 16 November 1960, at the Moscow Conference of 81 Communist and Workers’ Parties. Here, for the first time, Enver Hoxha represented the revolutionary interests of the entire world proletariat …

– to defend and strengthen the socialist world in the struggle against modern revisionism

– to fight against the restoration of capitalism under the terms of the rule of the capitalist-revisionist world”[xi]

Wolfgang Eggers Weighs In

A champion of Stalinism-Hoxhaism, Wolfgang Eggers (who has a website dedicated to this question on the date of the formation of Hoxhaism) questions the understanding of such contributors:

“Hoxhaism emanates from Stalinism….The answer of the question of the formation of the teachings of the 5 Classics can neither be limited in dates of their personal development nor dates of its formation on a national scale….  It is that you needed to study:  “The foundations and concerning questions of Hoxhaism” published by the Comintern (SH): Wolfgang Eggers, July 11, 2015.

Decisive for the date of the formation of Hoxhaism is the date when it became the most advanced guideline of the communist world movement.

He is clear that Hoxhaism developed after the death of Stalin. Stalinism-Hoxhaism developed after the death of Enver Hoxha.[xii]

Eggers argues: If we assume that Hoxhaism developed after the death of Stalin in 1953 then it is wrong to date the beginning of Hoxhaism in 1948. In 1948, Titoism, as the first revisionism in power, was unmasked and exposed by Stalinism and not by Hoxhaism.

“It was Stalinism which paved the way towards the development of Hoxhaism especially on the battlefield against Titoism. So the date of 1948 is not the correct date of the formation of Hoxhaism as an independent higher stage of the development of the proletarian ideology.

Hoxhaism was born as the only correct ideology against Soviet revisionism on November 16, 1960.

1978 was the date of the liberation of the Marxist-Leninist World Movement from the danger of its degeneration through Maoism, namely Maoism as the predominant international ideology of Chinese revisionism. The victory over Maoism would be possible not without Hoxhaism that – logically – was already developed during the formation of the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist World Movement in the 60ies. More than that, In the 60ies, Hoxhaism was already the predominant ideology of the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist World Movement with comrade Enver Hoxha at the head.

Hoxhaism is not an ideology which was formed in the struggle against Maoism but completed in the struggle against Maoism.”

 In an earlier work, Wolfgang Eggers argued that,

….. Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha the Marxist-Leninist World Movement received an enormous impetus. He succeeded to unite and strengthen the Marxist-Leninists and effected the rebirth of all the world`s revolutionary elements after the revisionist betrayal against Stalin.

….he stepped forward to develop Marxism-Leninism under the new conditions of revisionism in power, under conditions of imperialism AND social-imperialism, in the period of the restoration of capitalism and its social-fascist ruling system under the conditions of the fallen dictatorship of the proletariat in the Great Soviet-Union. [xiii]

12b5Including Enver in the Architects of Marxism-Leninism list emphasis the revolutionary contribution and legacy as …..They are formed as a common, monolithic whole, existing of one cast. For instance, the modern revisionists separate Marx, Engels, Lenin from Stalin, and they don`t approve Stalin as the 4th Architect of Marxism-Leninism up to this day. The appreciation of Stalin as the 4th Architect of Marxism-Leninism was, however, an unavoidable demarcation-line against Modern Revisionism and the supposition to gain the victory over it…..

….  Enver Hoxha again applied to the lessons of Stalin in a correct way. So he became the best and deserving pupil of Stalin….

…… Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha the Marxist-Leninist World Movement received an enormous impetus. He succeeded to unite and strengthen the Marxist-Leninists and effected the rebirth of all the world`s revolutionary elements after the revisionist betrayal against Stalin. ……. Nobody, except Enver Hoxha struggled against imperialism and social-imperialism on an international stage on the principles of proletarian internationalism in a way he did.

…….

Those who recognize the positive contribution of Hoxha don’t need to be “Hoxhaists” to do that. However when some insist on using the description “Hoxhaists” they then seem incapable of distinguishing between disagreement, deviation & revisionism, an anti-Marxist trend, a line that contradicts with the core of Marxism.

Those who complain that Hoxhaists are focusing all their time on isolating themselves from others, obsessed with attacking non-Hoxhaist Marxist-Leninists as “revisionists” and deadly enemies, fail to appreciate the demarcation line drawn by Hoxhaists.

It is not a minor question whether one appreciates the contribution of Enver Hoxha, and to split with those who don’t agree with Hoxha on everything is maybe regarded as obviously sectarian, however in the worldview of such believers Enver Hoxha is not only the last Architect of Marxism-Leninism of socialism of the 20th century but also the pioneer of socialism of the 21st century, the pioneer of world-socialism, neither is there a broad movement that encompasses a category of marxists (plural) but only the existence of their specific movement.

This sectarian mindset in neither new nor unsurprising, nor simply an ultra-left tendency of seeking “ideological purity” over all else. Criticism of others whose calls seek unity is partly because such unity is on their terms which usually violate a political redline enshrined in the quest to have specifically Hoxhaist organizations. Unity is not achieved by merely proclaiming it and even on the Hoxhaist spectrum, an outlier like Eggers has criticism of what others would regard as fellow thinkers. He, secure in the political platform of his fifth architect, contextualises the problem because the struggle initiated by the PLA (and Communist Party of China) against modern revisionism is not finished. It continues in conditions even more difficult today.

We could – unfortunately – recognize that the Marxist-Leninist World Movement in times of Enver Hoxha lost its quality and quantity as well. It cannot be compared with the present situation. … the foundation of the Comintern[ML] was a necessary and important step to cope with this worldwide line of revisionism.

There was easy criticism of the gathering of previously pro-Soviet elements, basically unreconstructed Stalinists groups with their self-advertised World-Congress in Toronto back in September 2001 as the revisionists all over the world unite in the name of the Soviet people, in the name of Marxism-Leninism, in the name of the Soviet Union, in the name of socialism, in the name of the October Revolution …with the only aim to re-conquest Russian revisionism in power.

Equally scathing of the very low ideological level of »unity-agreements« and collected all opportunists whoever and whatever it was. ….. The North Korean social-fascists promoted the Conference of Pyöngyang with a declaration signed by a lot of revisionist parties and organisations all over the world. The social-fascist Milosevich appealed to the »Left« to support Yugoslavian »socialism« against the imperialist aggressors of the NATO. Social-fascist Fidel Castro/ Che Guevara-World Movement continued to organize international solidarity to defend »socialist« Cuba against US-Imperialism.

And in Sofia representatives of the former social-fascist East- European countries falled with their attempt to build up »something internationally«.

Which all goes to rule out the vast majority of surviving revisionist groups.

The critical position on Maoism – as unmasked by Enver Hoxha – sees it categorised as Neo-Revisionism as a new branch of Modern Revisionism, with new quality and a world wide movement of it`s own that developed from the Marxist-Leninist Movement in their struggle against Modern Revisionism….. We kick the revisionists out of the front door, but we let them in through the back door.

In his works Enver Hoxha unmasked revisionist Maoism irrefutably as the ideological roots-effect of Chinese social-imperialism. So, Chinese capitalist development is not an appearance of turning away from Mao Tsetung Thought, but in the contrary the result of applying to it in different ways. …Enver Hoxha verified that Mao is – under no circumstances and to no time an Architect of Marxism-Leninism, not even a Marxist-Leninist.

While Eggers points out Chinese Neo-Revisionism was palliated by »left« opportunism and revolutionary phraseology and hard to find out, he authored the online publication War on Maoism that rules out reconciliation with Maoism.

The demolishing consequences are occasion enough to draw a clear demarcation-line between Enver Hoxha and the Neo-Revisionism of Mao Tsetung Thought as a matter of principle. Definitely we have to make a clean sweep with the legend, that »BOTH TOGETHER« – Enver Hoxha AND Mao – would be the greatest Marxist-Leninist leaders in the struggle against Modern Revisionism..

This goes beyond the responsibility to preserve the memory of the part played by the Party of Labour of Albania and its First Secretary Enver Hoxha and slides into historical revisionism of the crudest form, that of denial.

The Beligan communist leader Ludo Martens of the PTB gets a mention as the centralist attempt at a big tent enuemical gathering at May Day succeeded in attracting many international branches of revisionism…. The camp of the Maoists is non-uniform and heterogeneous. Some groups support openly, others hidden the social-imperialist and social-fascist China. Sectarian and Neo-Revisionist Groups support Mao and the »Culture-Revolution« more or less, and again some other groups try to reconcile Neo-Revisionism with Marxism-Leninism which means critics at Mao to some extend.

So no reconciliation with Maoism is another redline.

Whereas, one component of the pro-Hoxhaist movement in the late 1970s, were amongst those who condemned the allies of Ramiz Alia but also paralyzed the Marxist-Leninist World Movement – thank-you Hardial Bain with his neo-revisionist CPC [ML] in Canada.

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Albanian Party of Labour, the most prominent re-grouping emerged with the Quinto Declaration, (in Eggers unpromising description) as without principles pure revisionist and opportunist, associated with the neo-revisionist international grouping around the »Unity & Struggle« magazine.

Last not least the neo-sectarian ISML that propose to be »non-sectarian«: The truth is, that they are non-sectarian towards the united front of neo-revisionist opportunism, but cruel to the Marxist-Leninists that ISML accuses as »sectarians«, because we criticized their opportunism. So we call them Neo-Sectarians because they mask their sectarianism behind the lessons of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin AND Enver Hoxha! Their »non-sectarianism« includes not only collaboration – attempts with »Unity & Struggle«, but everybody who calls himself »Marxist-Leninist« included liberalist publications of open social-imperialist and social-fascist contents on their ISML-List which they call »tactic of the communist united front«.

Thus framing the composition of international communism, Stalinism-Hoxhaism identifies who it struggles against. When asked in 2017, how many people are in Comintern (SH) and how many people support it?

Eggers replied,

You will certainly understand that we will not present the concrete amount of our members on a silver platter to our enemies. We are an illegal party.

Though we are still not more than a few comrades all over the world, we are already the leading communist world organization on the battle field of the world proletarian ideology of today – Stalinism-Hoxhaism. We are still in the period of the ideological construction of our party – thus far away from leading the entire world proletariat towards world socialism.[xiv]

The advocacy of the Fifth Architect, even without state sponsorship, is integral, in Eggers world, to the ideological construction of the dreamed of world Hoxhaist party.

 

 

E N D N O T E S

 

[i] Zeri i Poppulit May 19, 1968 (quoted by the magazine New Albania № 4 1968)

[ii] Radio Tirana broadcast 04/11/1985

[iii] Link The Character of the Epoch

[iv] Part 1 to 4 of the comments of AKP (ml) were printed in Class Struggle no 1/78, parts 5 to 7 in C.S. no 1/79, the remaining comments in issue 14.

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/class-struggle-norway/no-12.pdf

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/class-struggle-norway/no-13.pdf

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/periodicals/class-struggle-norway/no-14.pdf

[v] Link When Hoxha Praised Mao

 [vi] LINK  TIRANA BUILDS AN INTERNATIONAL

[vii] https://espressostalinist.com/marxism-leninism/enver-hoxha-page/

[viii] Thoughts on Hoxha & Hoxhaism   14 Jul 2017

[ix] Wolfgang Eggers ,Enver Hoxha -the 5th Architect of Marxism-Leninism……and the foundation of the Comintern [ML] 2001

[x] Red Vanguard A Brief Guide to Hoxhaism. Posted on June 11, 2011 https://theredstarvanguard.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/a-brief-guide-to-hoxhaism/

[xi] Ideas Of A Proletarian What is Hoxhaism? written by hoxhaiststalinist1924

https://hoxhaiststalinist1924.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/what-is-hoxhaism/

[xii] Naturally, “only the Comintern (SH) was able to give a complete answer to the question what Stalinism really is [see our book: “On the foundations and concerning questions of Stalinism”].”  Likewise, only the Comintern (SH) was able to give a complete answer to the question what Hoxhaism really is [see our book: Enver Hoxha – the 5th Architect of Marxism-Leninism and the re-foundation of the Comintern”]

[xiii] Following paragraphs draw upon the argumentation in Enver Hoxha -the 5th Architect of Marxism-Leninism……and the foundation of the Comintern [ML]

[xiv] http://ciml.250x.com/country/poland/poland1.html

Stalin, Bo and Mao

woodsmoke

Addressing the “Stalin Question” raised critical conclusion from the anti-revisionist movement that initially gave an uncritical defence of Stalin. These assessments were characteristically muted in tone, partly to avoid supporting bourgeois and revisionist condemnation. This remains evident in more contemporary observations such as ‘STAND FOR SOCIALISM AGAINSTMODERN REVISIONISM by Armando Liwanag. However drawing upon the policies and practices of China under Mao, a critical evaluation emerged that was incubated but co-existent with that which would manifestly identify itself as more ‘Stalinist’ than ‘Maoist’ in the disintegration of the anti-revisionist movement in the late 1970s. Activists come a new to the “Stalin Question” at various times in their political journeys, for the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninists an early and initial exploration came from Sweden.

In June 1965 anti-revisionist study groups were formed under the leadership of the lecturer in economics Bo Gustafsson at the University of Uppsala (Sweden). A leading member of the old Swedish Communist Party (SKP) Bo Gustafsson, had distanced himself from the proposal that the party should change its name to the Left Party and convinced that a new communist advance was needed, free from revisionism and reformism.

According to Wikipedia entry,

Bo introduced Marxist theorists like Maurice Dobb and Paul Sweezy to Swedish readers, and his From Colonialism to Socialism from 1964 highlighted the issues that became crucial to the anti-imperialist movement of the sixties. He later became editor of the journal Clarté in the early sixties and started and led the great ideological settlements that brought together almost a whole generation of radical young people around to a China-friendly policy.

Contradictions came to ahead at the SKP’s 21st Party Congress in May 1967. Shortly after, in what was later subject to criticism the organization: Kommunistiska förbundet marxist-leninisterna (KFML) was constituted at a conference in Sweden that June, under the leadership of Bo Gustafsson and Frank Baude. The KFML’s formation in mid-summer 1967 took place in a bureaucratic manner “without a fight”; the decision made by a small group of older SKPs without opposition from the rather insecure younger militants in the movement.

Gustafsson became the KFML’s chairman, Nils Holmberg its study secretary; other leading members were Frank Baude , Bernt Westerberg , Kurt Lundgren and Åsa Hallström . The central organ was called Gnistan; which was to reach a print run of 14,000 and the theoretical organ: Marxist Forum .

Communist_Party_Sweden_1967Gustafsson (left) with Nils Holmberg and Frank Baude .

Figure 1 From left Bo Gustafsson, Nils Holmberg and Frank Baude

Gustafsson helped Clarté to start publishing Marx’s Capital in 1969 new translation in Swedish. In 1970 he presented his doctoral thesis Marxism and Revisionism, a study of the historical roots of ideas for Eduard Bernstein’s revisionism. One of Bo Gustafasson’s most distributed articles was ‘Bo Gustafsson AFTER THIRTY YEARS – Copy an accompanying commentary on Stalin’s On dialectical and historical materialism.

Bo Gustafsson’s criticism of Stalin’s works was one of the influential articles of the anti-revisionist movement,reprinted by various groups and distributed in various organizations.

KFML republished Stalin’s article in 1967 as a “training brochure”  ,and its then chairman Bo Gustafsson wrote an epilogue entitled, ‘After thirty years’.  The German group KPD / ML published in 1970/71 an edition in the series “From the Marxist-Leninist World Movement” as , “Stalin’s Theoretical Works (1936-1953).   A criticism by Bo Gustafsson of the Swedish KFML. KPDml

It explained: [Dietmar Kesten , Materials for the analysis of opposition February 2014 ]

“Stalin’s important work ‘On dialectical and historical materialism’ is part of the basic training program of the Swedish KFML. When KFML therefore republished Stalin’s script in 1967 as a training brochure, its then chairman Bo Gustafsson wrote an afterword under the title: ‘After thirty years’. In it, Stalin’s treatise is subjected to Marxist-Leninist consideration and criticism. Since the KPD / ML also included Stalin in its training, we consider it appropriate to publish Bo Gustafsson’s criticism in German as a supplement to our training program. .

Bo Gustafsson’s criticism of Stalin’s works was one of the much read articles of the Maoist movement.  It was reprinted by various groups and distributed in various organizations such as in a Danish edition, About dialectical and historical materialism by JV Stalin published in Copenhagen October, 1976.

CRITICISM


At the formation of the KFML internal and external critics on the Left said Mao’s thinking had been given a hidden role, not in the forefront of propaganda, or any emphasizes on “the role of ideological education” (ie Mao Tse-tung’s thinking) as maoist thought unmentioned in the formation of the KFML.

Mao is mentioned four times in “After 30 Years” – centred on Mao’s contribution stating

….The conflict between productive forces and production relations is, of course, under socialism a completely different character from capitalism. The main difference is that during capitalism there is a contradiction is essentially antagonistic, while it is non-antagonistic during socialism. But if during socialism there would be no contradictions between the forces of production and the relations of production, not the socialist the production method could evolve at all. That is why Mao Tsetung, who has dealt with this most thoroughly question, says quite rightly:

“The most fundamental contradictions in socialist society are the constant relations between production relations and the productive forces, and conflicts between the superstructure and the economic base.”

Bo Gustafsson and other authorities within KFML were said to show no particular enthusiasm for the Chinese Cultural Revolution which aroused the distrust of many younger activists, partly contributing to the environment that saw the emergence of the breakaway KFMLr group. This distrust was channelled in Uppsala by Francisco Sarrion, a Spanish Marxist (went by the name of Fredrik Svensson) who lived privately in China during the most intense period of the Cultural Revolution in 1967. Sarrion was “the latest eyewitness” from China and as such became very influential in Uppsala’s KFML- section. He lambasts Bo Gustafsson and Nils Holmberg as false authorities. Fight them! is the Rebellerna /”The Rebels” slogan. Reflecting the tone of the late 60s, the establishment of Mao Tse-tung’s thinking as absolute proletarian authority is a vital issue for the communist world movement and for all revolutionaries throughout the world. Using an ageist argument attacked the leading layer within KFML as not significantly affected by the cultural revolution as Bo Gustafsson and Nils Holmberg proletarian attitude had been shaped long before the Cultural Revolution, more spuriously during the time when President Liu Shao-chi was the “guardian” of the CCP.

They were characterised by the intemperate ultra-leftist sectarianism of the age against the broader Leftist and Maoists movement, which they considered corrupted. “They even went to the Chinese embassy in Stockholm where they demanded to become members of the Communist Party of China. When they were denied membership, because they were not Chinese citizens, Francisco Sarrión declared that the embassy was under the control of reactionary bureaucrats who had betrayed Mao Zedong.”

The internal KFML opposition, Left opportunists according to the leadership, the self-styled Rebels argued in a Leaflet signed Four Red Guardians from April 1968, that Bo Gustafsson’s foreword to the anthology “Mao Tse-tung: Political Writings” “reveals his bottomless revisionism and contempt for Mao Tse-tung’s thinking .

Victoria Höög’s article, Bo Gustafsson, science & politics [Tekla No. 7 Dec 1979] outline some of the outstanding features of Bo Gustafsson’s authorship and its connection to his position as a leading politician in the Maoist movement at that time. Much of his work continued in an orthodox Marxist manner, as evidenced in his posthumously published essay, “The Transition from Domestic Industries to Factories” on the emergence of mechanized cotton spinning in the 18th century.

Like many other former activists, Bo excelled in his professional career as professor at the Department of Economic History 1977−2000 at Uppsala University in Sweden, and politically moved to a social-democrat position in doing so revised his analysis evident in the extract (below) reproduced in the Online newspaper Trend

Supplement: After 45 years.


After another decade and a half, BoG had broken with KFML / SKP and considerably revised his view of Stalin and Stalin’s Soviet. In the book Marx & Marxism (published 1983) he writes, among other things following:

The communist labor movement that emerged in Western Europe did not see… any major difference between bourgeoisie and social democracy, because even though the mass of social democrats was workers, according to Lenin’s statements, they were headed by “bourgeois workers leaders”. During In the 1920s, social democracy was even labeled “social fascist”, which was even more so extreme and distorted designation than Lenin’s “social chauvinist”. This split, as under

The 1930s enabled the victory of fascism, not changed by that line in relation to social democracy was temporarily transformed into a unified front policy of 1934. It came too late. Only temporary unity was first established in the fascist concentration camps.

Another consequence of the establishment and politics of the Soviet Union and the Third International were that socialism as goals became more difficult in Western Europe and difficulties grew as Leninism moved into Stalinism with its forced collectivization and mass purges in the Soviet Union. About Marxism initially split by the Russian revolution, Marxism now seemed to disappear more and more as a living doctrine and as a guide for political action in the Soviet Union. It became Marxism-Leninism and Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, a collection of dry formulas, state doctrine and even magic. In the latter property, it could still be used to mobilize the population in efforts to modernize the country. Everything was subordinate – and all means were allowed with reference to – the future goal: communism. But the consequence was that Marxism, this rationalistic, humanistic and liberating doctrine, came into sharper form contrary to the realities of Soviet society. A new class of administrators and bureaucrats – proven and lamented already by Lenin before he died – took over the dominion of the class and used Marxism only to legitimize its own class rule, just as bourgeois according to Marxism did. Marxism was transformed in the Soviet Union and after World War II as well the rest of Eastern Europe to a bourgeois ideology: to false consciousness.

 

 

 

 

 

“From Marx to Mao Tse-Tung”

bnc_thomson3

The only member of the Communist Party’s Executive Committee to vote against the Party’s programme, `the British Road to Socialism’, because “the dictatorship of the proletariat was missing”. [Morning Star 9th January 1989] George Thomson was the author of “From Marx to Mao Tse-Tung” (London: China Policy Study Group, 1971).

Though written over 40 years ago, this is still a fine, if dated, introduction to a Mao-influenced Marxism-Leninism. Subtitled, “A Study in Revolutionary Dialectics “ it includes a great many quotations from Marx, Lenin, Mao and others, all arranged in a way to illustrate the overall coherence and unity of MLM theory. It was translated in many languages and received a wide circulation in the international communist movement, the first volume of three books written for the China Policy Study Group by the renowned British Marxist activist intellectual, George Thomson – From Marx to Mao Tse-Tung: A Study in Revolutionary Dialectics; Capitalism and After: The Rise and Fall of Commodity production.

This is a Marxist study of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Chinese Revolution of 1949, designed to demonstrate their unity and continuity as two successive stages in the world socialist revolution. Their common theoretical foundation is expounded by means of extensive quotations from the Marxist classics, especially the writings of Lenin and Mao Tse-tung. These enable the reader to follow the two revolutions through the minds of those who led them, and at the same time they provide him with an introduction to the basic principles of dialectical and historical materialism; for that theory can only be understood in the light of the revolutionary struggles out of which it has grown and in which it finds its fullest and clearest expression

Pdf available https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/thomson-1.pdf


THOMSON, George Derwent (1903–1987)

George was a leading academic, a Cambridge graduate, who pioneered a Marxist interpretation of Greek drama. His first scholarly commentary, published in 1932, was on the Aeschylean Prometheus Bound. His Aeschylus and Athens and Marxism and Poetry won him international attention. He became a professor at Birmingham University in 1936, the year he joined the Communist Party. Thomson had a leading role in the CPGB internal party education programme in the Forties, a member of the CPGB Cultural Committee and also it’s Executive Committee.

Sharpening of Ideological Battle in Britain by George Thomson.

He resigned from the Party in the early Fifties in protest at the British Road to Socialism, but this was not much more than an act of an individual. He was around loose anti-revisionist circles, Thompson’s musician wife Katherine Thompson worked with Ewan MacColl, another anti-revisionist communist member, and A.L.Lloyd on ‘Singing the Fish’. And Thompson continued to write and was active in the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding and other pro-Chinese societies; public lecture he gave Marxism in China Today by George Thomson.

He never lost his political beliefs and his commitment to working-class education, which included giving lectures to factory workers at Birmingham’s Austin car plant, encouraging study groups in Birmingham that saw the formation of the Birmingham Communist Association.

PANAGIOTIS NOUTSOS | BRITISH MARXISM AND GEORGE THOMSON | 1987

English translation of a paper delivered in commemoration of G. Thomson organized by the Classics Department of the University of Ioannina


His Wikipedia entry notes Thomson as “English classical scholar, Marxist philosopher, and scholar of the Irish language.”

Thomson first visited the Blasket Islands off the west coast of Ireland in 1923.He spent several years with the people of the islands studying their language, history and culture. He maintained a special study of the now extinct community in Ireland, in which he perceived elements of surviving cultural resonances with historical society prior to the development of private property as a means of production. Thomson became a champion of the Irish language, writing and translating a history of Greek philosophy up to Plato written in Irish in 1929.

Thomson went on to become professor of Greek at Galway University before moving back to England in 1934 where he continued a successful academic career, including over 30 years as professor of Greek at Birmingham University. Academically he produced a stream of publications which were informally blacklisted at Oxford University, but very widely read outside the Classics establishment in Britain, and indeed were on the syllabus of many departments of Anthropology and Sociology as well as the reading lists circulated by workers’ educational organisations.

In 1938 he published his impressive two-volume commentary on Aeschylus’ Oresteia, which still needs to be consulted by any scholar working on that text. But the work of classical scholarship with which he will always be primarily associated was his 1941 Aeschylus & Athens, a Marxist anthropological study of early Greek tragedy, published by the press most closely associated with the CPGB, Lawrence & Wishart. In 1949 he followed this with The Prehistoric Aegean, and, making a kind of ‘trilogy’ of Marxist interpretations of ancient Greek civilisation from the Bronze Age to Periclean Athens, in 1954 with The First Philosophers based on a 76 page book written in Irish for the common reader in 1932 and published in 1935 under the title: Tosnú na Feallsúnachta. source



Maggie Burns produced a study, George Thomson in Birmingham and the Blaskets 0709302339 that tells the story of his life and is illustrated with photos from Ireland, Birmingham, China and Greece.

In 2003, at the Galway Conference “Irish involvement in Greek Culture, Literature, History and Politics” organised by the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies at Athens (that included Professor Margaret Alexiou on the life and work of her father, George Thomson), the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre reminisced:

“I began to read George Thomson, a professor of Greek first at Galway and then at Birmingham and a member of the Executive Committee of the British Communist Party. He played a part, I believe, in my joining the Communist Party for a short time. In 1941, he published “Aeschylus and Athens,” which came after a history of Greek philosophy up to Plato written in Irish, entitled Tosnù na Feallsùnachta, as well as the translation of some Platonic dialogues into Irish. It was through thinking about the problems of translation involved in rendering Greek philosophy into modern languages as different as English and Irish that I had my first inklings of two truths: that different languages as used by different societies may embody different and rival conceptual schemes, and that translation from one such language to some other such language may not always be possible. There are cultures and languages-in-use that one can only inhabit by learning how to live in them as a native does. And there are theories framed in different languages-in-use whose incommensurability arises from their partial untranslatability. These were thoughts that I only developed fully some thirty-five years later in Relativism, Power and Philosophy and in Whose Justice? Which Rationality?”


Of George Thompson, it was said that “he was a noble person, he loved the people” (“Bhi se usual iseal” – Maire Guiheen).

Works by George Derwent Thomson

Aeschylus and Athens: A Study in the Social Origins of Drama . A Marxist anthropological study of early Greek tragedy, published by the publishing house most closely associated with the CPGB, Lawrence & Wishart

  • Studies in ancient Greek society 1949
  • The First Philosophers 1954
  • From Marx to Mao Tse-tung: A study in revolutionary dialectics
  • Marxism and Poetry 1946
  • The Greek language
  • Capitalism and after: The rise and fall of commodity productions
  • A manual of modern Greek
  • The Blasket that was: The story of a deserted village
  • Greek Lyric Metre
  • Os primeiros filósofos
  • Τὰ Ὁμηρικὰ Ἒπη
  • An Essay on Religion
  • Aeschylus: The Prometheus Bound y
  • La filosofía de Esquilo
  • Les premiers philosophes.
  • The human essence : the sources of science and art
  • Greek lyric metre

Ancient Philosophy and the Class Struggle | Marxism Today, February 1963, pp. 54-57

Communication | The Labour Monthly, March 1950, p. 139

Engels’ Masterpiece (Review) | The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, by Fredrick Engels

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State | The New Masses, July 22, 1941, pp. 22-23

Engels’ Masterpiece on Social Evolution (Review) | The Labour Monthly, March 1941, p. 142

The Modern Prince and Other Writings | Marxism Today, November 1957, pp. 61-62

The Flight from Reality by Hector Hawton | The Labour Monthly, April 1942, p. 128

From Lenin to Mao Tse-tung | The Monthly Review, April 1970, pp. 115-130

Greetings from Friends in Britain | The Labour Monthly, July 1961, pp. 351-354

History by V. Gordon Childe | The Labour Monthly, May 1948, p. 157

Ireland Her Own by Thomas Alfred Jackson | The Labour Monthly, March 1947, p. 95

Marxism and Spiritual Values | Marxism Today, August 1961, pp. 234-239

Class Struggles in Ancient Greece by Margaret O. Wason | The Labour Monthly, July 1947, pp. 223-226

Concerning Marxism in Linguistics by Joseph Stalin | The Labour Monthly, June 1951, p. 284

Translator, various editions:

  • The Oresteia: Agamemnon; The Libation Bearers; The Eumenides (Penguin)
  • Prometheus Bound (Translator, some editions)
  • An Anthology of Greek Drama: First Series (Translator, some editions)
  • An Anthology of Greek Drama: Second Series (Translator, some editions)
  • Aeschylus, the Laurel Classical Drama (Translator, some editions)