TWO LINES

Two Lines

The early sixties saw differences in the communist movement went beyond the boundaries of an internal dispute, and emergence of two main lines of demarcation, two opposite and ultimately irreconcilable lines confront each other. The struggle between two worldviews are very often materialized in the form of “power struggle” between the two leading characters, and as this happened it distorted the presentation and understanding of what was at stake.  That these positions were identified with the two most prominent and successful parties complicated the development and consequences of the struggle as these enveloped both party and state relations and the world communism in ideological and strategic questions. Framed as a ‘split in world communism’, the actual ideological contest to defend Marxism and the communist vision could be less of the focus than the easy trope of Khrushchev versus Mao.

The two principal meetings of the world’s Communist Parties seeking a resolution to the issues that had arisen were those held in Moscow in 1957 with the Declaration of representatives of 12 ruling parties of the socialist countries and the 1960 Statement of 81 Communist and Workers Parties. Though ostensibly to build the unity of the Communist Movement, they were dominated by the widening rift between the CPSU and the CPC, and at each both sides fought to have their views incorporated into the final documents. The documents of those meetings became reference points in the polemic that followed. A position reaffirmed in various statements, such as the joint statement released by the Chinese and New Zealand parties in Peking May 1963:

The Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of New Zealand reaffirm their loyalty to the Moscow Declaration of 1957 and the Moscow Statement of 1960 and hold that these two documents, unanimously agreed upon by the Communist Parties of various countries, are the common programme of the international communist movement. [i]

A few years previously, a leading ideologue in the CPSU leadership had told a plenum on 22-26 December 1959, when Suslov presented a detailed report on “the trip by a Soviet party-state delegation to the People’s Republic of China” in October 1959,

“… that the Soviet Union would try to restore “complete unity” by continuing “to express our candid opinions about the most important questions affecting our common interests when our views do not coincide.” Although the aim would be to bring China back into line with the USSR, Suslov argued that if these efforts failed, the CPSU Presidium would “stick by the positions that our party believes are correct.” [ii]

From studies of declassified materials from CPSU Central committee meetings it is clear that from late 1962 on, Soviet leaders no longer held out any hope that the acrimonious polemics would be resolved with the capitulation of the Albanian and Chinese parties to the Moscow line. Toward the end of 1962, a series of conferences of fraternal Parties in Eastern Europe and in Italy were used as forums from which to attack both the Albanian Party of Labour and the Communist Party of China.

The only genuine unity, both sides argued, was on their terms, each citing Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism. Still for all the fine words and sentiments, Khrushchev publicly attack the Albanian Party of Labour at the 22nd Congress of the C.P.S.U. late in 1961.The Albanian party had been told: accept without question the revisionist line of the leaders of the CPSU.

An editorial in China’s Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) acknowledged that the earlier platform set forth in the Declaration and the Statement was far from fit for purpose as

“the formation of certain questions in the Declaration and the Statement is not altogether clear and there are weaknesses and errors…we made certain concessions at that time in order to reach agreement. On more than one occasion, we have expressed our readiness to accept any criticism of us on this point. Despite all this, the Declaration and the Statement set forth a series of revolutionary principles which all Marxist-Leninist parties should abide by.” [iii]

However, the concessions made included the formulation that the CPSU leadership were pursuing as the strategy for the International Communist movement and could reference and defend as their adherence to the platform agreed in the two documents. When accused of being “betrayers of the Declaration and the Statement” they simply quoted the relevant part of the document that supported them. When either side can selectively use the positions in their argument, the coherence and integrity of the compromised documents reduces its effectiveness in forging a united approach for the parties concerned.

Time and time again, the anti-revisionist argument employed the fact that the Declaration and the Statement pointed out that all communist parties must wage struggles against revisionism and dogmatism, and particularly against revisionism, which is the main danger in the international communist movement, for their opponents to turn around and identify them as the dogmatists to be targeted.

On the Declaration and Statement, the Albanian view was that the two documents contained a scientific Marxist-Leninist analysis of the deep revolutionary processes in the modern world. Collection of anti-revisionist articles repeated the sentiments that they constituted a sound basis on which the Communist and Workers’ parties should build their line of actions on the revolutionary conclusions of the Moscow Declaration in their struggle for peace, national liberation, democracy and progress to an exploitation-free classless society (e.g.  Oppose Modern Revisionism and Uphold Marxism-Leninism and the Unity of the International Communist Movement, Tirana 1964).

The anti-revisionists maintain that at the time revisionism is the main danger in the international communist movement: “In the last few years many events have further confirmed the conclusion of the Declaration of 1957 and the Statement of 1960 in this respect.” [iv]

Both sides continued to differentiation between parts of the Declaration and the Statement, with the defence of their revolutionary principles the foundation of the anti-revisionist position. The editorial argued that the CPSU leadership had “tore up these documents [the Declaration of 1957 and the Statement of 1960] on the very day they were signed.”

In contrast, the suggestion of an alternative platform was made in the 25 Points on the General Line of the International Communist Movement put forward in June 1963 that effectively jettison the platform that the CPSU leadership still used in defence of its new policies.

The Khrushchov revisionists stated the People’s Daily “are pressing forward with their anti-revolutionary line of ‘peaceful coexistence’, ‘peaceful competition’ and ‘peaceful transition’. They themselves do not want revolution and forbid others to make revolution.” The editorial concluded that betrayal of the revolutionary principles “can only lead to a split” [v]   

The escalation and hardening of the public polemics were clearly signalled on both sides with the words far from reflecting fraternal relations. Whereas there was an appeal to the agreement that relations “should follow the principles of independence, complete equality, mutual support and the attainment of unanimity thought through consultation” ,  the article charged that “Khrushchov revisionists practise big-power chauvinism, national egoism and splittism, waving their big baton everywhere, wilfully interfering in the affairs of fraternal parties and countries, trying hard to control them and carrying out disruptive and subversive activities against them, and splitting the international communist movement and the socialist camp.”

Referencing the 22nd Congress of the CPSU, the charge was that the Soviet leadership was “casting to the four winds all the basic theses of Marxism Leninism and all the revolutionary principles of the Declaration and the Statement.”  Furthermore, “they are enforcing the dictatorship of the privileged bourgeois stratum in the Soviet Union and have embarked on the road to capitalist restoration.”

The stark division in positions expressed were directed to a wider audience. Periodically there was issued calls to an end to the public polemics which “had an unfriendly character and are abusive of sister parties” however as British academic Julia Lovell, and others observers, noted,

“The Soviets’ riposte was robust. They printed 3.2 million copies, in thirty-five different languages distributed to eighty-five countries, of just one of several open letters to the CCP refuting the latter’s ‘slanderous attacks’. They poured energy and money into sponsoring local activists all over the world to write anti-Chinese copy, to show anti-China films, and give anti-Chinese lectures. As relations became deeply hostile in late 1962, the New York Times speculated that Khruschev now wished for a ‘Soviet-American Alliance Against China.’.” [vi]

The Chinese criticism of the new Soviet leadership following Khrushchev’s departure was observed and interpreted through ideological lenses, that they remain loyal to the general line of “the founder of their faith and the maestro who ‘creatively developed Marxism-Leninism’, simply because Khrushchov was too disreputable and too stupid to muddle on any longer, and because Khrushchov himself had become an obstacle to the carrying out of Khrushchov revisionism. The only way the Khrushchov revisionist clique could maintain its rule was to swop horses.”

“While proclaiming they are building ‘communism’ in the Soviet Union, they are speeding up the restoration of capitalism.”  [vii]

The distrust in the leaders of the CPSU was mirrored in attitudes towards US imperialism where the base line was that “the destiny of mankind and the hope of world peace cannot be left to the “wisdom” of U.S. imperialism or to the illusion of co-operation with U.S. imperialism.”

Reconciliation between the parties, ensuring the much-proclaimed unity of the international movement was no longer a feasible option, especially as a condition laid down by the anti-revisionists involved the prospects of the CPCU repudiating the revisionist general line laid down at the 20th and 22nd Congresses. Sham unity would no longer tolerated.

The lines of demarcation had been drawn by both sides.

Since the 81 Parties’ Meeting in 1960 there had been talk of the holding of an international meeting of the world parties – provided such a meeting was held with the object of reaching ideological unity and not with the object of forcing an organisational split.

The Communist Party of China’s representatives met in Moscow on July 15, 1963. But on the day preceding, the leaders of the C.P.S.U. published to the world its slanderous attackson the Chinese Party contained in the now notorious Open Letter. [viii]

Others testify to how the CPSU leadership asserted its paternal assumptions. The talks held by the New Zealand Party delegation in Moscow in 1963 were later described in terms that

 “Our frank and free presentation of views was, as comrades know, met with the same tirade of abuse and subjectivism which had been inflicted upon other Party delegations seeking a similar down-to-earth critical and self-critical study of problems on the basis of Marxist-Leninist science.”

The attitude of the C.P.S.U. leaders may be summed up: “There shall be no criticism of our line. You must submit to this line even though you consider it revisionist. This line is the line to which all world Parties must adhere without question. We shall see to it that any who do not do so are ostracised from the world movement.” Thus the line of “compulsory unity with revisionism” or open split emerged as the line of the C.P.S.U. leaders. [ix]

In March 1965 the CPSU managed to finally convene their “schismatic”, “fragmented meeting. The divisive meeting was quite small and most unseemly. It was a gloomy and forlorn affair” was the judgement of People’s Daily/Red Flag in their “A Comment on The March Moscow Meeting”  (March 23 1965). Of the 26 parties invited, 19 attended who were “were rent by contradictions and disunity” (and not only according to Chinese reporting). They described the divisive March Moscow meeting as “now hatching a big plot for a general attack on China and a general split in the international communist movement. The time had passed when the CPC could proclaim “Eternal, Unbreakable Sino-Soviet Friendship” [x]  

Giving it the description as a “consultative meeting” did not alter its intention as preparation for an international conference of the Communist and Workers Parties. Still, it failed to act as a drafting meeting.  The Albanian paper Zeri I Popullit called it “a major crime against the world communist movement” explaining that the “incorrigible revisionists and renegades from Marxism-Leninism” had sought to “bring about the final split in the communist movement in the organisational plane”. The Albanian commentary noted that for all the demagogic oaths about unity and solidarity, the meeting showed that the CPSU leadership could not even “define a common line for revisionism and to eliminate the division that exists within their ranks”. [xi]

The reaction of the Communist Party of New Zealand to the March meeting convened in Moscow by the leadership of the C.P.S.U. reflected the scepticism at what was seen as an attempt to foist this improper meeting upon the World Communist Movement, under cover of soft words and Marxist-Leninist phrases, further disunity in the world movement: “ It makes clear that the leaders of the C.P.S.U. (and their supporters in other places) persist in their revisionist ideas and are determined to impose them upon the world movement.” [xii]
The Chinese comment explained the initial approach of the party to the divergences with the CPSU:

“In the incipient stages of Khrushchov revisionism and in the course of its development, we invariably proceeded from the desire for unity and offered our advice and criticism, in the hope that Khrushchov might turn back. We indicated on many occasions that the points the fraternal Marxist-Leninist Parties had in common were basic while the differences among them were partial in character, and that they should seek common ground while reserving their differences.” [xiii]

What had developed under Khrushchov and subsequent was the policies the new leaders of the CPSU adopted towards fraternal countries and fraternal Parties remained the views expressed in the Open Letter of the Central Committee of the CPSU of JuIy 14, 1963, in Suslov’s anti-Chinese report at the February 1964 plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU and in the resolution adopted on this report, and actions of unscrupulous interference in the internal affairs of the fraternal Parties and engage in disruptive and subversive activities against them. The inability to bring its anti-revisionist critics to heel was clear when only 19 of the 26 invited Parties attended march Moscow meeting. Significant absentees included five of the Parties from the socialist world, namely, Albania, China, Korea, Rumania and Vietnam. Indonesia (the largest Communist Party outside of the socialist world) and Japan also refused to attend. As the Chinese observed, “the number of those obeying Khrushchov’s baton was already decreasing.”

The pressures of the world Parties (including some like Italy and Britain, who attended) and the failure to get a representative gathering forced a change in the character of the meeting – from one which was to organise and prepare a meeting of world Parties in 1965 to a down-graded “consultative meeting.” This was a setback for the revisionist leaders of the C.P.S.U. The meeting itself demonstrated that it could not prepare and proceed to convene a conference of world Parties. But it is equally clear from the communique that the organisers have not given up their hopes of imposing their revisionist ideas on the world movement.  [xiv]

The observations of the New Zealand party were concerns shared by others who identified with the criticisms raised by the Albanian and Chinese parties and their supporters.

“What is the attitude of the leaders of the C.P.S.U. towards criticisms of its line and policy? Were they welcomed, studied, analysed, verified or, where necessary, corrected? Comrades know from the development of the ideological dispute that this was not the approach of the leaders of the C.P.S.U. On the contrary, it was an arrogant, conceited and commandist stand. Stand-over methods and economic and political pressures were exerted in an effort to enforce the Soviet leadership’s point of view. Under the cover of words like “proletarian internationalism,” its opposite, great-power chauvinism, was enforced. On the ideological front, the theoretical bankruptcy of the Soviet leaders became quickly exposed. Abuse of other parties and distortions of Lenin were used in an attempt to bolster an impossible case. Quotations from “Left-Wing Communism,” by Lenin, became favourite missiles to hurl at all who dared to criticise the policy of the Soviet leadership from a fundamental Marxist-Leninist viewpoint.” [xv]

These were a manifestation of the same struggle being waged on a national scale, the differentiation of forces within individual parties. The growth and consolidation of the new Marxist-Leninist groups proved largely marginal, with the Communist Party of New Zealand being an exception in the industrialised world aligning to the developing anti-revisionist camp. [xvi]  

The historical analogy within the anti-revisionist struggle against revisionism saw the CPSU leadership line as taking them right back to the struggle of Lenin and the Mensheviks in 1903, on the membership rule of the Party, on the role of the vanguard party and the issues of how imperialism in the early part of the century turned Labour leaders into “the Labour lieutenants of Capitalism in the ranks of the working class”.

Clearly for the anti-revisionists, the ascendancy of bourgeois ideology within the working-class movement or its political parties ends in their adaptation (capitulation) to capitalism and imperialism. It was not about personalities; the struggle between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism is a class struggle.

“The present polemic” wrote the Albanian leader, “is of a major character, dealing with the most fundamental theoretical and practical issues of communism. Having been started by the revisionists, it has become unavoidable and indispensable.” [xvii]

The point emphasised was that the ideological struggle – and its practical consequences – were in order to wage the struggle against imperialism and reaction successfully and further strengthen the unity of the international proletariat. There was the wider context expressed by the Chinese party led by Mao Zedong that

“the emergence and development of Khrushchov revisionism is by no means a matter of a few individuals or an accidental phenomenon. It has profound social and historical causes. So long as imperialists and reactionaries exist and so long as there are classes and class struggle in the world, Khrushchov revisionism will inevitably recur in one form or another and the struggle against it will not come to an end.” [xviii]

“to expose their true revisionist features”

“The Chinese Communist Party has on many occasions made clear its stand on the question of the public polemics, and we now once again announce it to the world: Since there are differences of principle between Marxism-Leninism and modern revisionism and since the modern revisionists have maligned us so much and refused to acknowledge their mistakes, it goes without saying that we have the right to refute them publicly. In these circumstances, it wiII not do to call for an end to the public polemics, it will not do to stop for a single day, for a month, a year, a hundred years, a thousand years, or ten thousand years. If nine thousand years are not enough to complete the refutation, then we shall take ten thousand.”  [xix]

Participants in these struggles recognised that the struggle between these two opposing lines presented the prospect of a split as a fait accompli; the question was how the ideological division would be formulated in organisational developments. How would ‘true international solidarity’ be expressed? So far respecting norms and non-interference in the internal affairs of other parties had been violated with charges and counter-charges of factional activity thrown around when Marxist-Leninists had no avenue but to organise themselves in new groups to continue to defend revolutionary positions and challenge revisionism within their national parties. The position had shifted from the thesis of the 1960 Declaration that revisionism was “the main danger in the international communist movement”, it had become the main enemy in the international communist movement.

Enver Hoxha raised the opinion

“There can be no hope or illusion that the Khrushchevite revisionists will mend their ways and return to correct positions of principle.” [xx] He was candid in a private meeting, telling his Malayan guests: “We do not forget that the leaders of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union are enemies who have carried on and still carrying on utterly anti-Marxist and anti-Albanian activity against our Party and people”. [xxi] After all, the Soviet leadership not only opposed the Albanian party, it broke off diplomatic relations with Albania extending the dispute to the nation-state as it scrapped all economic, culture, military and other agreements in an attempt to isolate and break Albanian opposition.

So, what could involve raising the struggle against modern revisionism “to a higher level”? A visiting New Zealand delegation were told in October 1965 that, in the opinion of the Albanian party “not unity with the revisionists but the definitive split with them is on the agenda” [xxii] .

In a conversation with a delegation of the Communist Party of Malaya in January 1965, Enver Hoxha spoke of the serious difficulties in the international communist movement created by the revisionists. He judged that while they had been exposed by the anti-revisionist struggle, that while was no unity of opinion in the revisionist ranks, the CPSU leadership had not “yet lost their power and influence”. The counter-attack of the Marxist-Leninists, Hoxha said “must settle them completely…. Our Party of Labor is of the opinion that our Marxist-Leninist parties should not give any ground in the contradictions they have with the modern revisionists.” [xxiii]  

The circumstances had changed in the composition of the international communist movement since the Moscow meeting in 1960 with the emergence of a series of new Marxist-Leninist parties and groups waging “a stern principled struggle” outside, and within the ranks of the old parties. The bilateral meetings were valued by the Albanian leadership as “our Marxist-Leninist internationalist unity becomes stronger through co-operation between the parties” [xxiv] The assistance given by the Albanian party went beyond the level of propaganda support.  [xxv]

1965 had begun with raised expectations. An Editorial in Zeri i Popllitt proclaimed “In the Europe which breeds revisionism, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism will triumph.”  The editorial said, “History has proved that, as the principal stronghold of capitalism and world imperialism, Europe and North America are also the cradles of opportunism and revisionism in the international workers’ movement.”

Surveying the history of opposition to such ideological current it described the Khrushchev group as “the main bulwark of revisionism of the most rabid type.” It declared

The revisionists are bent on paralysing the fighting will of the European working class, making it depart from the path of revolutionary struggle and become apathetic by spreading all kinds of pacifist and reformist illusions. The revisionists try to push their line of betrayal to turn some European Communist and Workers’ parties with glorious traditions from parties carrying out the social revolution into parties for social reform, from militant, organised and disciplined revolutionary vanguard of the working class into amorphous organisations, with no clear objectives and devoid of sound Party discipline, where all kinds of bourgeois careerists, careerists and opportunists can join or leave as they please.” [xxvi]

Having unleashed attacks upon the Chinese Communist party, the Albanian Party of Labour and “all the healthy forces of the revolutionary communists in their Parties and countries”,

“With their opportunists, traitorous and divisive line and manoeuvres, the European revisionists are entirely responsible for the grave situation created in the world communist movement, and in particular, for the great harm and damage done to the European workers’ and communist movement.”  [xxvii]

The article stated the need “uniting the revolutionary forces in Europe with the anti-imperialist struggle for liberation of the oppressed people of Asia, Africa and Latin America.”

Forecasting that a new revolutionary upsurge will take place in Europe, unchecked by the “temporary boom” of capitalism for “The main obstacle on the path of revolution in Europe today is Khrushchovian revisionism which strangles revolutionary enthusiasm, paralyses the fighting will and spirit of the working class …and keeps the Communist Parties of Europe far away from the revolutionary path.” Given these circumstances the Albanian paper states the perspective that:

The struggle of the revolutionary Marxists of Europe and North America, as a component part of the struggle of all the communists in the world, is of particular international significance today because this is carried out inside the citadel of modern revisionism, a citadel which must be demolished and smashed to smithereens.

With their organized legal and illegal forces, the Marxist-Leninists in Europe are carrying out work inside and outside their parties, to oppose the propaganda and organisation of the revisionists, forming and strengthening Marxist-Leninists groups and new Parties and carrying on inner-Party struggles to defend their principles trampled upon by revisionists, combat their tactics, reduce the sphere of their activities, expose their line and aims, isolate them from the masses of Communists and finally eliminate them. [xxviii] 

The article cites the example of the revolutionary Marxist-Leninists of the Soviet Union “awakening and waging an active and determined struggle “, but without providing evidence or examples beyond the generalities. An explanation for the lull in polemics following Khrushchev expulsion from power was that the Soviet leadership was in a transitory stage of determining new tactics so as to avoid struggles and blows from Marxist-Leninists.

It is precisely because of this difficult position and the contradictions with which they are confronted that the present Soviet leaders are trying to maintain “silence” or “lull”. In appearance, they try their best to present themselves as being more restrained than their chieftain, N. Khrushchov, creating a false impression that they can mend their ways while in reality they stubbornly pursue the original Khrushchovian line.

Such a period of “lull” and “silence” benefits the imperialists and revisionists but harms the communist movement and the cause of Marxism-Leninism and socialism, because in this period the revisionists endeavour to consolidate their positions with a view to launching a more violent attacks on Marxism-Leninism.” [xxix]

Having described revisionism as an ulcer on the healthy body of the revolutionary movement and communist movement in Europe and the rest of the world, the article concludes with a rallying call that “Now is the time for revolutionary Communists to combat treason, liquidate modern revisionism and re-establish the original Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist unity of all communists of the world”.

This ambiguous sentiment was read as a call for the internationalisation of the anti-revisionist forces in a recognisable movement structure. Speculation was on whether, and how, the complete break with revisionism would manifest itself amid the reconstruction of the communist movement that saw Marxist-Leninists organise independent of the revisionist parties.

In the fight against revisionism the cultivation of organised anti-revisionists had resulted in separate pre-party organisations for communist unity, against revisionism. The intensification of the anti-revisionist struggle led away from reconciliation or acceptance of the revisionist path set out by the 20th and 22nd Congresses of the CPSU. Stating that the parties of western Europe stood “in the service of the monopolistic bourgeoisie of their countries” and that that they were following an “opportunistic, traitorous, and splitting course of action” there was not much hope given of transforming those parties for revolutionary struggle.

Along with the public refutation of all the slanders and attacks made against the Party of Labor of Albania, the Communist Party of China and the other Marxists-Leninists, the Albanians called for the unequivocal rehabilitation of Stalin “for the revisionists concretized their attack on Marxism-Leninism and the proletarian dictatorship with their attack on J.V.Stalin.”  [xxx]  

By 1965 the fight to transform those Moscow aligned communist parties had given way to establishing alternative poles of attraction in reconceiving the revolutionary movement. Evidence of this ambition of a Comintern-lite arrangement peppered the events of the year. A more favourable attitude towards a new international was discernible in the Albanian position. The PLA was more assiduous about maintaining bi-lateral relations with the new groups with regular visits by their representatives, and name checks on Radio Tirana and in ATA reports.

Speculation was not unanticipated, raised by the obvious intentions in Moscow to resolve important problems by seeking to hold a planning conference for a global meeting of parties scheduled originally for autumn 1964. Such an action would cement not only the divisions between the parties but might not their opponents be motivated to organise what would be the first anti-revisionist organised council after all the CPC’s Proposal for a General Line issued in June 1963 signalled an alternative platform for world communism.

Supporters, or what opponents dubbed them, the “Peking faction” were seen in the Albanian capital as a general test for a future international founding congress of “the Peking line”. There was even mischievous western media speculation that the next occupiers to be house in the Soviet Embassy in Tirana was to become a centre for a new international headquarters of anti-revisionists/pro-Chinese communists. There was some Western speculation that the Tirana “summit” meeting of “Marxist-Leninists” should be seen as the embryo of a Marxist-Leninist International in opposition to the Moscow centred organisations. The list of these delegations, as reported by Radio Tirana, included the Belgian Marxist-Leninist CP delegation, headed by Jacques Grippa; representatives of the New Zealand CP and the Communist Party Australia Marxist-Leninist; leading members of Marxist-Leninist groups and editors of Marxist- Leninist publications from Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Britain, and representatives from Chile, Ghana and Guinea.

The significance of the gathering of these Marxist- Leninist representatives was that this was the first time that a state event of a ruling Communist Party has been attended by the leading members of the newly emerging anti-revisionist forces. Whether there would be a declaration that formalised the political divisions – the split with Moscow – so as to likely leave a lasting imprint on the international Communist movement was an expectation that increased prior to the 1966 Fifth Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania.  [xxxi]  

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The judgement of the Swiss based Marxist Leninist Nils Andersson was that

“An important demonstration of the reality of the Marxist-Leninist movement was the celebration of the 5th Congress of the PLA in November 1966, which was attended by the CP of China and 28 Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations from the five continents. There was great enthusiasm, for Albania it was one of the great moments in its history, it had defeated the revisionist and imperialist blockade; for new parties it was the first time they had been able to get together in such great numbers.” [xxxii]

The participation of representatives of the new Marxist-Leninist groups in the 5th Congress was seen as an important event in the international communist movement. The official authorised history of the PLA said that such internationalist solidarity manifested by such engagement:

“expressed the love, support and the great authority the PLA had won in the international arena by its resolute struggle for socialism and the preservation of the purity of Marxism-Leninism.” [xxxiii]

Mao’s Message of Greetings to the Fifth Congress of the Albanian Party of Labour was read out by Kang Sheng, head of the delegation of the Communist Party of China. He then addressed the internationalist audience invited to the 5th Congress of the PLA:

“At present, Marxist-Leninist Parties and organizations are emerging in quick succession in all continents and they are growing and becoming increasingly consolidated every day. They are drawing a clear line of demarcation between themselves and the modern revisionist clique theoretically, ideologically, politically, organizationally and in their style of work. They are directing their efforts towards building themselves into Marxist-Leninist Parties of a new type. These new-type proletarian revolutionary parties represent the fundamental interests of the proletariat and revolutionary people in their respective countries; they represent the future and the hope of these countries, they represent the core of leadership in their revolutions. The birth and growth of the new type Marxist-Leninist Parties and organizations is a great victory of Marxism-Leninism in its struggle against modern revisionism.” [xxxiv]

The 5th Congress ratchet up the unfilled expectation when Belgian party leader, Jacque Grippa, introduced a new element to the Congress with a message from the new established illegal Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland (although Party leader Mija was at the Congress). For the first time a Marxist-Leninist party formed in opposition to a ruling revisionist party was given recognition and publicity by an estranged “fraternal” Albanian party at a time of a bitter struggle waged within the international communist movement between Marxist-Leninists and modern revisionists. The significance of a split from a ruling party and creation of an illegal oppositionist Marxist-Leninist party was not repeated elsewhere in Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union. These organisations sent greetings to the fifth congress and their flattering messages among the 28 republished in a 212 paged publication from the <Naim Frasheri> Publishing House, purveyors of Albanian political propaganda. [xxxv]

In the major report to the Congress, Enver Hoxha gave encouragement to the speculation when to the assembled Marxist-Leninists he called for a not- too-clearly defined “separate unity” composed of these forces. He did this by declaring that the PLA believed that “the creation of links cooperation and coordination of activities in conformity with the new present- day conditions was an indispensable and urgent matter.”

Marking the Soviet October Revolution, a Zeri i Popullit editorial of November 7th, praised the role of the 5th Congress on the question of unity by quoting from Hoxha’s report: “All the Marxist Leninist parties and forces, as equals and independents, should form a bloc with the CCP and the CPR, a bloc of iron to break all our enemies.”

Did Hoxha feed the expectations of the newly emergent anti-revisionist movement when he declared to the 5th Congress audience that:

“The unity in the communist movement and the socialist camp will be re-established, but it will be established by the Marxist-Leninist without the treacherous revisionists and in resolute battle against them. (Prolonged applause)” [xxxvi] . The opinion of the Albanian Party was that “we must not reconcile and unite with the revisionists, but break away and separate from them.”

Perhaps hinting at the reformation of an alternative arrangement  with each party equal and independent rather than recapture of the Moscow dominated structures, especially when referring to revisionists as “the fifth column” and  a “trojan horse”, the Albanian leader said, “We think it is high time to draw a demarcation line with modern revisionism,  with all its group, and to wage a tit-for-tat struggle, so as to isolate them from the people and from the revolutionary Soviet communists.”  [xxxvii]

Hoxha’s report stated that the anti-revisionist struggle must be promoted to a new height.

“ ..thanks to the struggle of the Marxist-Leninist forces, to the reaction against the revisionist line and methods, a great process is taking place and deepening : that of the differentiation of the forces of Marxism-Leninism and revisionism, both in a national and in an international scale. Tens of new parties and Marxist-Leninist groups have been founded in different countries of the world, including some socialist countries. We wholeheartedly hail these Marxist-Leninist parties and groups and wish them ever greater successes in their just struggle for the lofty revolutionary ideals of the working class. (Prolonged tumultuous applause. Ovations) ….. for in the growth of these new revolutionary forces we see the only just way to the triumph of Marxism-Leninism and the destruction of revisionism. (Prolonged tumultuous applause. Ovations)”  [xxxviii]

The cultivation, and encouragement (some might say “talking-up”) of these newly emergent forces – “tens of new parties” – related to the background consideration to Enver Hoxha Congress report set out in his “Theses on the Unity of the International Marxist-Leninist Movement”, a diary entry for October 10 1966. Prior to the 5th Congress Hoxha consider the necessity of consultation among the anti-revisionist parties and groups on general meetings which the Albanian leadership advocated for strengthening the unity of the international communist movement. Included in the diary (published 1979) was a reference raising questions why the Chinese party was avoiding such a course of action (which some reviewers wondered if added after the fact to pre-date a political opinion subsequently formed).

“the joint meeting and the taking of joint decisions is important. The meeting will be informed of and study the forms of work and organisation and set tasks for each party…There is no one to oppose the idea in principle; the most they can do is leave it to melt away from lack of action. But it is they who will be wrong and not us.”  [xxxix]

There was a militant crescendo in the rhetoric “to spare no effort to support the just revolutionary struggle of the Marxist-Leninist parties and forces, it [PLA] will tirelessly work for the consolidation and strengthening of the Marxist-Leninist movement and the anti-imperialist unity of the peoples of the world.”  [xl]

“Marxist-Leninist must strengthen their unity on a national and international scale and their resolute struggle against imperialism and revisionism. The time we are living is not to be spent on academic, endless and empty discussions, but in daring militant actions full of revolutionary selfless spirit and sacrifice….The ranks of the Marxist-Leninist parties and forces must be closely united and well-organised, prepared and tempered to fight on…. Establishment of links for co-operation and co-ordination of actions in conformity with the new actual conditions….. consolidate their co-operation and they must work out a common line and a common stand on the basic questions, especially in connection with the struggle against imperialism and modern revisionism.”  [xli]

Enver Hoxha in conversation with V.G.Wilcox thought

“The militant revolutionary spirit of the heroic times of the Comintern and the time of Lenin and Stalin should characterize world communism today.”  October 1965 [xlii]

He told the world in his Congress report, November 1st 1966

“in the forefront of present-day struggle against the US-led imperialism, against modern revisionism with the Soviet leaders at the top, stands strong and steadfast the Communist Party of China and the great People’s Republic of China, headed by the prominent Marxist-Leninist, Mao Tse-tung (Prolonged applause. Ovation)

Yet in his diary, he supposedly written a more hostile judgement as Hoxha confided of the need to urge the “Chinese comrades somewhat to activize themselves in the support of the new Marxist-Leninist parties [xliii]

We think, in particular, that the time has come for our Marxist-Leninist parties to develop the most appropriate and fruitful different working contacts.

‘’it is up to us, to both your big party and Our Party, in the first place, to take the first steps to concretize closer, more effective links with the whole world Marxist-Leninist movement, so that our Marxist-Leninist unity is further tempered and our joint activity against our common enemies is strengthened. [xliv]

The PLA reiterated the party’s readiness and ‘lofty internationalist duty’ to give all the aid in its power to these new Marxist-Leninist forces. A later interpretation concluded that from the 5th Congress the international communist movement “had set out on the road to revival on a Marxist-Leninist basis.” [xlv]

Divergence Paths

Again, there was speculation, prior to the PLA’s 6th party congress, when Enver Hoxha raised the expansion and consolidation of the Marxist-Leninist movement which was seen as having experienced some neglect due to the domestic preoccupation with the Cultural Revolution. Albania felt this having, from September 1967 to May 1969, no resident Chinese ambassador to its closest ally in Tirana. He told the Tirana party conference, in January 1969, that the international Marxist-Leninist movement had entered a more advantage stage of development. The new emerged Marxist-Leninist parties constituted an overt detachment from modern revisionism and from the old communist parties:

“This is the picture of a new revolutionary situation in the fold of the international working class which is splitting and at the same time being re-organised. In its fold there is being consolidated the conscious and revolutionary part of the proletariat to wage the struggle of the vanguard against socialists, the social democrats and modern revisionists who still have very strong positions, especially in the strata of workers aristocracy that deceives the bulk of workers.”

The assertion of these new Marxist-Leninists forces engaged in a vanguard role might have signalled the intention of an approaching consolidation on an international scale, particularly in light of the looming Moscow Meeting scheduled for that May. He emphasised the right of independent action for these parties within their national boundaries on domestic issues reaffirming the complete equality of parties, “big or small, old or young”.

In a divergence observation, the public pronouncements of the Albanian leader altered radically by the end of the Seventies. With political rewriting and self-justification, this later interpretation of events presented a more critical analysis of relations within worldwide anti-revisionist movement, although there was no mention of the unseen side dramas. Jacques Grippa, the leader of the Communist Party of Belgium (m-l), and European fixer among the pro-China groups, took the opportunity at the 5th Congress to tell the Albanian party his great dissatisfaction with certain Chinese policies. Grippa eventually sided with Liu Shao-chi. [xlvi]  

The authorised History (volume 2) stated the new Marxist-Leninist parties had:

“pinned their hopes especially on the support of the Party and PR of China as a “great Marxist-Leninist Party” and a “big socialist country”. In general, they were disillusioned when they did not find the immediate support that they hoped for. In reality, as been known later, at first Mao Tse-tung, and his associates, did not approve of the formation of the new parties and groups and had no faith in them.”

Indeed, Hoxha’s reaction to the news that no party delegation from China would be attending the 6th Congress scheduled for 1971, as convey in his diary was the belief that they had “no confidence in the new Marxist-Leninist parties and groups which are being created….does not want to be stuck with them…and this is in conformity with its vacillating revisionist line.”  [xlvii]  His comment was that, “For the international communist movement, of course, this opportunist revisionist line of the Communist party of China is not good, because it weakens and confuses it. But everything will be overcome.” [xlviii]

The Albanians charged later that the Chinese were “exploiting those organisations for their own narrow interests”, recognising anyone, and everyone, provided they proclaimed themselves “followers of ‘Mao Tsetung thought’”. [xlix]

In contrast to the alleged Chinese role in ‘disrupting and impeding’ the revival of the Marxist-Leninist movement worldwide, the History (1981) highlights the 7th Congress of the Party of Labor of Albania in 1976 as when the parties entered a new phrase of sorting itself out and development on what is described as Albania’s echo of the sound proletarian basis. [l]

WHEN THE Albanians made speeches condemning Mao it was accomplished without a hint of self-criticism for the PLA’s years of conciliation to the “Chinese revisionists”. Hoxha had confided in his diary that China was a “great enigma” but that the PLA proceeded from the general idea that Mao was a Marxist-Leninist.

The PLA was apparently blameless. In the publications produced by the Albanian publishing houses, the PLA was a vociferous defender of China as a socialist country, the Communist Party of China as a great Marxist-Leninist party and Mao as a great Marxist-Leninist. So it was difficult to deduce any significant difference between them. Supporters and the Albanians find it difficult to manufacture reasons for Enver Hoxha and Party of Labour of Albania to keep silence on Mao’s as well as CPC’s alleged deviations and revisionism, until Mao was dead.

Indeed in 1971, Hoxha had said in his Report to the Sixth Congress:

“Great People’s China and Albania, the countries which consistently pursue the Marxist-Leninist line and are building socialism. The role of the People’s Republic of China this powerful bastion of the revolution and socialism, is especially great in the growth and strengthening of the revolutionary movement everywhere in the world. “

Furthermore, there was full agreement from Tirana on the correct line which the Communist Party of China advocated in putting forward “A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement” in 1963, which it gave political support. Even with the voluminous anti-revisionist propaganda commentaries and its own public role since 1960 criticising Khrushchev and the cosying up to US imperialism, Tirana did defer in the leadership of the struggle against Khrushchev to the CPC. The PLA accepted the hegemony of the CPC and Mao in the international anti-revisionist communist movement even though it thought that, from 1972, China had entered the dance with US imperialism with Nixon’s visit to Beijing that marked the collapse of America’s isolation and containment policies towards People’s China.

After the breach in the relationship, what was exposed was the disconnect between his public utterances and supposed entries into Hoxha’s private diary at the time, his increasing sceptical views on China and its relationship with Albania. The deterioration in the relationship between the two allies simmered for the rest of the decade until the rupture in 1977/78 offered stark ideological alignment that divided the anti-revisionist movement.

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.

The accelerated interest and concern for the anti-revisionist parties to assist its own foreign policy objectives partly sprang from its growing contradictions with China. This international support and sympathy crafted out of an image of purity and principled struggle, standing up to face China as it had faced down the Soviet leadership. Socialist Albania would not surrender to a revisionist malignancy but expressed its insistence of remaining faithful to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism. Personified in Enver Hoxha’s writings was a presentation essentially based on the promotion of the ideological orthodoxy of Marxism-Leninism.

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.

That emergence of two main lines of demarcation within the anti-revisionist Marxist-Leninist movement, and the Maoist recalibration that was witnessed in the early 21st century could be seen as proof of dialectics in action as unity is sought to advance the struggles for a fairer and just society. 

See also

E N D   N O T E S


[i] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/new-zealand/joint-statement.pdf

[ii]  Mark Kramer, « Declassified materials from CPSU Central Committee plenums », Cahiers du monde russe [Online], 40/1-2 | 1999, Online since 15 January 2007: http:// journals.openedition.org/monderusse/14 ; DOI : 10.4000/monderusse.14

[iii]  The Leaders of the CPSU are Betrayers of the Declaration and the Statement Peking: Foreign Language Press 1965

[iv]  https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/new-zealand/joint-statement.pdf

[v] The Leaders of the CPSU are Betrayers of the Declaration and the Statement. Peking: Foreign Language Press 1965 p8

[vi] Lovell (2019) Maoism a global history. London: Bodley Head p147

[vii] The Leaders of the CPSU are Betrayers of the Declaration and the Statement p5. Hoxha claimed “Khruschev’s downfall is a result of the struggle waged by the Marxist-Leninists.”  Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p5

[viii] Open Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to all Communists of the Soviet Union.  July 14, 1963 https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sino-soviet-split/cpsu/openletter.htm

[ix] Statement on the March Moscow Meeting.  the New Zealand Communist Review. June 1965

[x] Peking Review No. 49/50 December 13, 1960  https://www.marxists.org/subject/china/peking-review/1960/PR1960-49-50.pdf

[xi] Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House pp78-109

[xii] Statement on the March Moscow Meeting.  the New Zealand Communist Review. June 1965

[xiii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/china/comment.pdf p11

[xiv] It was not until June 1969, in the aftermath of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, an International Meeting was held in Moscow with representatives of 75 parties.

[xv] Statement on the March Moscow Meeting.  The New Zealand Communist Review. June 1965

[xvi] An overview sketch of developments  compiled from the view of Tron Ogrim can be found at https://woodsmokeblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/06/research-note-tron-recalls/

[xvii] …. Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House P97.   The authorised history of the young party founded November 1941, born of war and revolution, proudly recalled:

The Party of Labor of Albania has fought with exceptional severity against modern revisionism, the offspring and agency of imperialism. The irreconcible principled struggle which it has waged from the start against the Yugoslavia revisionists has equipped it with a great revolutionary experience and acuteness to recognise and to fight better and with more determination against the Khruschevite revisionists as well as other revisionism, with Soviet revisionism at the centre, constitutes a major class enemy and the main danger to the international communist and workers’ movement.

Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies (1971) History of the Party of Labor of Albania. Tirana: The “Naim Frasheri” Publishing House p671

[xviii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/china/comment.pdf

[xix] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/china/comment.pdf&nbsp; p23

The full arsenal of  arguments that exposed the revisionist course at that time is available in the republished work of the Communist Party of China to be found in Documents of the CPC – Great Debate Volumes 1 & 2 available from Foreign Languages Press. Or online at  https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/china/index.htm

[xx] Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p108

[xxi] Ditto p11

[xxii] Ditto p217

[xxiii] Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p10

[xxiv] Ditto p31

[xxv] see :Taking the Lek https://woodsmokeblog.wordpress.com/2018/09/18/taking-the-lek/

[xxvi] In the Europe which breeds revisionism, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism will triumph. (January 6th 1965)

[xxvii] In the Europe which breeds revisionism, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism will triumph. (January 6th 1965)

[xxviii] In the Europe which breeds revisionism, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism will triumph. (January 6th 1965)

[xxix] In the Europe which breeds revisionism, revolutionary Marxism-Leninism will triumph. (January 6th 1965)

[xxx] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 1962-1972 Extracts from the political diary. Tirana : The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p208

[xxxi] Taken from the four part series, https://woodsmokeblog.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/tirana-builds-an-international1.pdf

[xxxii] Nils Andersson The Origins of the Marxist-Leninist Movement in Europe.  Unity & Struggle No. 28, September 2014

[xxxiii] Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies (1971) History of the Party of Labor of Albania. Tirana: The “Naim Frasheri” Publishing House pp606/607

[xxxiv] Communist and Workers’ Parties and Marxist-Leninist Groups Greet the Fifth Congress of the Labor of Albania. Tirana 1966 p18

Remarks given added weight as during the Cultural Revolution period, Kang had Politburo oversight of the International Liaison Department of the CPC, responsible for contacts, communications and co-ordination with other communist organisations throughout the world. This changed in 1971 when the leadership position was held by Geng Biao /Keng Piao, formerly China’s ambassador to Albania, who remained in post throughout the 1970s.

[xxxv] Text can be downloaded from here https://archive.org/details/communistworkers00part 

[xxxvi] Enver Hoxha (1966) Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania.  Tirana: The “Naim Frasheri” Publishing House  p210

[xxxvii] Enver Hoxha (1966) Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania.  Tirana: The “Naim Frasheri” Publishing House  p215

[xxxviii] Enver Hoxha (1966) Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labor of Albania.  Tirana: The “Naim Frasheri” Publishing House p204/5

[xxxix] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 1962-1972 Extracts from the political diary. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p290/291

[xl] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 1962-1972 Extracts from the political diary. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p221

[xli] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 1962-1972 Extracts from the political diary. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p218/219

[xlii] Enver Hoxha (1977) Speeches Conversations Articles 1965-1966. Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House p215

[xliii] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 p303

[xliv] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 p305

[xlv] Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies (1981) History of the Party of Labor of Albania 1966-1980 (Chapters VII, VIII, IX) Tirana: The “8Nentori” Publishing House  p41.

The 2nd volume of the authorised History published in 1981 covers the period 1966-1980. The first chapter, labelled Chapter VII covering the 5th Congress was not a reproduction of the original Chapter VII that ended the first volume (printed 1971). It was re-written to reflect the new anti-China, anti-Mao analysis to be found in the two volumes of Enver Hoxha’s Reflections on China and other post-1976 Albanian publication.

[xlvi] Jacques Grippa against the Cultural Revolution by Ylber Marku & Counter-revolutionary plot in the People’s Republic of China by Jacques Grippa

[xlvii] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 P596 Hoxha bitterly complained about the Chinese comrades and the 6th Congress, dismissing the greetings sent as “full of stereotyped phases, which the Chinese use constantly” in his entry for November 9th 1971 with its intemperate language and accusations of “opposition to our party over line.” p609

[xlviii] Hoxha (1979) Reflections on China 1 p598

[xlix] Institute of Marxist-Leninist Studies.(1981)  History of the Party of Labor of Albania 1966-1980 (Chapters    VII,VIII,IX) Tirana: The “8 Nentori” Publishing House  p39/40.

[l] See: Tirana builds an International. woodsmokeblog.wordpress.com

Research Note on Vanguard Books & Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist)

In Scotland at the start of the 1970s, two anti-revisionist groups operated: one a component group of the Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), the Glasgow Communist Movement and political rivals associated with Spanish Civil War veteran, and Edinburgh trade unionist Tom Murray organised in the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist).

The WPS (ml) had its origins when the Scottish elements the Committee to Defeat Revisionism For Communist Unity. Arguing that the level of class antagonisms (and hence class consciousness) continued to remain higher in Scotland than in England, the decision in principle to form the WPS (ml) was taken in Edinburgh in May 1966 by anti-revisionist veteransThe Scottish Vanguard, paper of the WPS (ml), was launched in 1967 (published irregularly until 1979). The WPS (ml) soon embarked upon a propaganda offensive producing leaflets and the Red Clysider, and Dundee and Tayside Vanguard in 1971. Open about their Maoist orientation, the WPS (ml) took part in elections, including the 1969 Gorbals by-election, when they came last behind the Communist Party.

The WPS(ml) initially supplied literature from its Literature Dept.at its contact address  c/o 21, Castle Road, Newton Mearns, Glasgow (advertised in The Scottish Vanguard 1967).They sold, using an accommodation address [c/o The Bookstore,63, West Port, Edinburgh], duplicated pamphlets they republished by the late Michael McCreery, “Destroy the Old to Build the New”, “The Way Forward”, “Notes on the Lower Middle Class & the Semi-proletariat in Britain”, “Organise at the Place of Work” and “The Patriots”.

It boasted an extensive literature list with English language publications supplied from Chinese, Albanian and Vietnamese state publishing houses.

“The W.P.S. is in a position to offer a great variety of literature on Marxism, Leninism, The National Question, The Greet Ideological Controversy, Questions of Scottish Culture. Particularly important are the basic books written by Marx, Engels. Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Enver Hoxha. It included pamphlets and “Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung” [at 3/6] and Enver Hoxha’s “The Role and Tasks of the Democratic Front for the Complete Triumph of Socialism in Albania”, “Some Aspects of the Problem of the Albanian Woman”, “Report on the Activity of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Albania to 5th. Congress November 1966”.”

The constitution of the WPS (ml) was adopted in Edinburgh on December 5th 1970. The Party stated:

“our programme is one of action. We must secure the results which our workers have been striving to attain for whole generations and which are still outside their grasp: full employment and prosperity for all, a crash programme to solve the housing problem, justice for the veterans of labour and attractive prospects in Scotland for our youth.”

Agitational leaflets were available mail order, The Manifesto of WPS(ML) adopted in May, 1967 was available and Scottish Vanguard  specially recommended their own publication and printing of “POLITICAL POWER A CLASS ANALYSIS” By DR. S. W. TAYLOR. Price 7/6. Postage l/-

Scottish vanguard did note that in the Summer 1968 Clyde Books, at High street Glasgow were now stocking “Scottish Vanguard”.

In 1969 Vanguard announced, “Our New Literature Service

 Readers will be interested to learn that our Party expects soon to acquire its own centrally situated Bookshop in Glasgow and that facilities have already been secured for setting up a fully stocked agency for the sale of the widest possible range of Marxist, International and creative literature especially Chinese and Albanian publications, in the bookshop soon to be opened at 105-107 Morrison. Street, Edinburgh”. [Vol3 No.6]

The WPS (ML)’s support for Scottish nationalism and independence drew sharp criticism from other anti-revisionist groups. The WPS (ml) were instrumental in popularising the work of Scottish communist, John MacLean, partly through the founding of the John MacLean Society. While the Workers’ Party of Scotland (Marxist-Leninist) published several pro-Gaelic articles in its paper Scottish Vanguard, in May 1969 it produced the first translation into GAELIC of the “Three Constantly Read Articles” by Mao Tsetung (“Serve the People”, “In Memory of Norman Bethune” and “The Foolish Old Man. Who Removed the Mountains”) Price 1/-. Postage 4d. And WPS (ml) Chairman, Tom Murray reported that an anonymous Gaelic scholar was considering undertaking the translation of ‘The Thoughts of Chairman Mao’ (The Times April 25, 1970).

The WPS (ml) expanded its retail presence, adding to its Edinburgh outlet by opening a shop, Vanguard Books at 270 Paisley Road West, Glasgow G51 1BJ, managed by Matt Lygate who worked onsite in the small printshop producing pamphlets, leaflets and posters promoting the workers’ revolution.

The WPS (ml) achieved notoriety in the spring of 1972 when two leading members founder and Gorbals electoral candidate Matt Lygate and fellow WPS(ml) member Colin Lawson were convicted (along with two non-members) for armed robbery of the Royal Bank of Scotland in the Glasgow suburb of Pollokshields, having been arrested the previous year following a tip off  a raid on the party’s Glasgow bookshop that discovered weapons and £10,000 cash. Lygate, MacPherson, Doran and Lawson were arrested.

  Lygate received the longest prison sentence in Scottish legal history for a non-violent crime, receiving 24 years and serving 11. They were originally to be prosecuted for treason, the first case since John Maclean, but the charges were later dropped to bank robbery. The trial saw the heaviest sentences recorded in a Scottish court for non-violent crime: 26 years imprisonment for McPherson; 25 for Doran; 24 for Lygate; and 6 for Lawson. An appeal brought a reduction of only two years for Lygate: in the words of one legal authority, he had received eight years for his crime and sixteen years for his politics. On being sentenced Lygate and McPherson had looked to the public gallery and with clenched fist shouted: “Long live the workers of Scotland”. A third WPS member, Alec Watt, handed himself in to police later and admitted complicity.

While protesting at the severity of the sentences, and noting the political function of the judiciary, the main thrust of a statement issued by the WPS’s Central Committee “A Crisis Met and Overcome” was to disassociate the Party from the “romantic adventurism” of Lygate and Lawson. It stated that Lygate’s group acted without authorisation.

Lygate embarked upon his sentence claiming status as a political prisoner and campaigned tirelessly for prisoners’ rights and welfare: eight years of his term were spent under the draconian Class A regulations and he was released having served over eleven years in 1983.

Limited opening times were advertised for the bookshop following the 1972 trial of party members: restricted to Saturday 12-4.30pm, and Scottish Vanguard goes to a bi-monthly publishing schedule.

Only the Paisley premises remained in 1973.

Alongside the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Enver Hoxha, Vanguard Books promoted the work of John MacLean and James Connolly. Also advertised was Red Star Press’ editions of Dimitrov’s Report to the 7th Congress of the Communist International, 1935 , “For The Unity of the Working Class Against Fascism”. It retains limited opening hours: Wednesdays 6-8 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 2 pm. But offered a mail order service and book-list of socialist literature. It acted as subscription agents for Scottish Vanguard – £1 sub. for 12 issues and Peking Review – an invaluable political weekly on Chinese & world affairs – £1.80 per year.

The Radical Bookshop Listing provides the dissolution date of 1981 for Vanguard Books.

Membership of the WPS (ml) had declined in the late 1970s and early 1980s down to a handful of activists. There was a brief burst of political engagement centred on international questions in the late 1970s over the issue of The Three-Worlds Theory that saw attendance at international conferences and the 1978 Consultative meeting of British Marxists-Leninists. However, the WPS (ml) adopted a marginal and minority position advocating ‘Democratic Defence’ that stated “Soviet social-imperialism is the main enemy of the peoples of the world at the present time”.

With the death of Tom Murray in February 1983, the Party came to an end.

However, after Lygate’s release from prison later that year, and a brief flirtation with the Scottish Republican Socialist Party, who had initiated a “Free Matt Lygate Campaign with the Glasgow Irish Freedom Action Committee [GIFAC] and the Revolutionary Communist Group, Matt Lygate appeared in Glasgow to announce the relaunch of the party as the Workers Party of Scotland (without the ML) . He produced a publication, “The People’s Voice” in 1988 repeating the old WPS (ml) call for a Constitutional convention and advocated a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Scotland.  Matt Lygate died January 10 2012.

1967- 1979 Scottish Vanguard (British Library has in General Reference Collection P.701/147)

Vol 1 Nos 1-2 (1967)

 Vol 2 Nos 1-9 (Jan.-Sept. 1968)

Vol 3 Nos 1-6 (1969)

Vol 4 Nos 1-4 (Jan. 1970-Feb. 1971)

Vol 5 Nos 1, 2 (1972)

Vol 6 Nos 2-12 (Oct./Nov. 1974 – Mar. 1978)

Vol 7 Nos 1-3, 5-6 (May 1978-1979)

APPENDIX:   Glasgow Communist Movement

Taken from: https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.secondwave/uk-maoism.pdf

The politics of the WPS (ml) were politically challenged by another Maoist element, the Glasgow Communist Movement,  GCM comprised of activists that coalesced through anti-revisionist struggle in the Young Communist League and formed a component group of the Joint Committee of Communist, and Communist Federation of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

 The birth of the Glasgow Communist Movement, initially known as the Glasgow Marxist Group, was celebrated with the production and distribution on May Day, 1967, of a pamphlet introducing the non-aligned journal, The Marxist in Glasgow. It was around the journal that the participants of the first meeting of the group assembled together. Politically related in the mid-1970s was the Workers Bookshop, at 81 George Street, Glasgow G1 [Open daily 10-5 late night Wednesday 8.30] run by the Glasgow Group of the Communist Federation of Britain (ML).

They regarded the WPS (ML), as part of UK’s “petty-bourgeois nationalism” represented by the Scottish Nationalist Party and the Welsh Nationalist Party. GCM’s critical stance on the struggle for Scottish independence was informed by the position that any struggle which is not a part of class-struggle is a dangerous distraction from real issues and, therefore, has to be vigorously opposed.

The GCM argued: The bourgeois democratic revolution, as Lenin pointed out, was completed here ages ago and thus the democratic development of nations in Britain has long since ceased. Bourgeois democracy in this country is now in process of rapid decay and a corporate state is developing instead. All that can be achieved through bourgeois democracy has been achieved in Britain. So to proceed towards socialism there is no intermediate stage of ‘People’s Democracy’ or ‘National Democracy’ for Britain – here all problems of revolution are those of direct transition to socialism.”

The GCM policy statement, Where We Stand, stated it “recognises that the degree of exploitation is different in England, Scotland and Wales. These places also have cultural differences and aspirations for independent development. Therefore, the Movement, while standing for immediate separate administrative bodies for each of these places and proclaiming their right to secede, will not advocate separate working-class organisations for these places at present. For, national aspirations for independence can only be satisfied after the replacement of the present system by a socialist one through unified struggle against the common enemy constituting a single class.”

The classic arguments on self-determination, complete with quotes from Stalin on the national question were reiterated by C K Maisels, writing in The Marxist, that the WPS (ML) was wrong; the only strategic remedy can only be the direct transition to socialism via the proletarian revolution. There is no intermediate stage in metropolitan imperialist countries.

Ivor Kenna (1931-2021)

In a one line acknowledgement, The Actuary  noted, Mr Ivor Kenna, an Associate based in the UK, passed away aged 89.

The Oxford graduate (St Catherine’s 1949) had a richer life to tell as a veteran activist as his partner in life and politics describes it:

 “He always said he did not want to seek idle fame. He never wanted to be famous. But he attended meetings and spoke up for issues he believed in. He was so good at remembering all the facts. He worked all his life for emancipation for the working class.”  — Flo Kenna, Islington Tribune 25 June, 2021 

They were the first to start a union at the Prudential Assurance Building in Holborn where he worked as an actuary. Called the Guild of Insurance Officials, it was later absorbed into Unite. While a Trojan like expenditure of energy and effort could be said to mark his life, and any historical account of the anti-revisionist movement in London would be peppered by references to Kenna’s presence, the actual legacy is harder to discern.

If you live long enough there is an emblematic respond to you: early on, heart-felt sighs would greet the sight of Ivor rising to his feet in a public meeting; a tolerated sectarian irritant would be the most charitable attitude. Forever on the periphery of the political fringe, temporary alignment and relationship were always being made ever since he broke with the Communist Party of Great Britain in the early 1960s when Secretary of the Finsbury branch. Ironically The New Worker, weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain, reported “This week’s postbag brought in £608 including £200 in memory of Ivor Kenna which pushed the running total up to £2,851.”[Week commencing 25th June 2021]. In the past their politics were polar opposites.

The CPGB(ML), associated with fellow veteran, and past sparring partner, Harpal Brar, were overly generous in their assessment that “Ivor did everything he could to halt the decline of the movement caused by Khrushchevite revisionism.” Ivor and Flo was there at the beginning of the struggle initiated by Michael McCreery, who issued a statement denouncing both Khrushchev and the revisionist leadership of the CPGB. The Kennas were involved in the Committee to Defeat Revisionism , for Communist Unity (CDRCU) and were expelled from the Communist Party in 1964. His disruptive, anti-leadership stance within CDRCU was duplicated throughout his attendance of other ML group meetings. (Research Note: Fracturing of the CDRCU). Despite its longevity the two=person Finsbury Communist Association was described years later by the Communist Workers’ Movement as not being

”a serious ML organisation; it has never offered much constructive criticism, has concentrated on circulating gossip and producing articles which discredit Marxism-Leninism (struggle against the Albanian line is not helped, for example, by silly remarks about how dusty Albanian bookshops are).” (CWM, Letter to Marxist Industrial Group in 1979)

The FCA survived around a fractured anti-revisionist movement populated by more notable outliers and small groups who equally failed to move beyond their petty-bourgeois obsession and seriously engage in the party-building commitment.

For their part, Ivor and Flo pride themselves on looking “unpleasant facts in the face with a view to finding a solution …it is necessary not only to tell the truth oneself but to attack those who are peddling lies and deceit.” (Finsbury Communist 49 Feb 1969)

FCA’s main charge, consistently maintained regardless of who they were criticising, is that ultra-leftism had held back the ML movement. To prove their point they were contend to emphasis what they characterise as much of the irrelevance of ML activity in Britain.

In 1978, the FCA judged that “the British ML movement has two outstanding features at present (1) substantial ignorance of, and disagreement about the actual situation in Britain (2) almost compete ignorance of what to do about that situation.” (Finsbury Communist 161 June 1978)

Time had jaded that enthusiasm of the FCA. In 1966 it had been of the opinion that” There are now organised ML groups in most parts of the country and some degree of unity in action has been reached.

All that is holding us back from forming a party is the lack of theoretical unity.”

In that year, FCA did contribute to the theoretical struggle over what constituted a class analysis of Britain. There were some criticisms of McCreey’s “Notes on the Lower Middle Class and the Semi-Proletariat in Britain!’ and Peter Seltman’s more substantial “Classes in Modern Imperialist Britain”. But it was the production of a 17-paged duplicated contribution, “Class and Party in Britain” that gave the true flavour of the FCA.

Coming from the revisionist CPGB, the FCA had constituted part of the District Committee so spoke of the “past 20 years of revisionist betrayal”. There was also involvement in the CDRCU and Ivor was thrown out of McCreery’s flat after one argument. However the FCA did correctly identified the need for and anti-imperialist and internationalist perspective within the anti-revisionist movement by calling for “complete identification with the cause of the workers and peasants in the colonies and neo-colonies”.

The hostility towards the Labour Party and the revisionist CP had not lessened, nor the conviction that higher prices had to be paid for Third World products. Self-determination for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall had been, adopted as FCA policy. Individually both Ivor and Flo were involved with the Celtic League. And self-determination for the Celtic nations, including Cornwall and the Isle of Man has been a basic principle of the FCA.

However its analysis of classes in Britain, the FCA talked of “a peasantry and a pretty well-subsidised peasantry it is”‘ as existing in Britain seemingly oblivious to the conditions of farm labourers and land ownership patterns in rural Britain. There were references to “non-imperialist capital” which was questionable given the nature of monopoly capitalism and the actual operation of British Capital.

Further ‘theoretical insights’ resulted from the occasional public meetings held at the Sekforde Arms (London EC1) in late 1972. These were on the subject of Marx’s Labour theory attended by Arthur Evans, Mike Earle and Harpal Brar. Evans and Earle excused themselves from a follow-up meeting at which a transcript was produced concluding that everyone in Britain including the working class benefited from imperialism. The FCA claimed this as their contribution to the ML movement:

” Our chief claim to fame was in showing 1) that the British people benefit from imperialism 2) just how exactly they benefit 3) And therefore the British workers much less the Middle Class, are not revolutionary.” (Finsbury Communist 121 Feb 1975)

The FCA were never on the wagon-train of ‘revolution is just around the corner’. They maintained the plodding pace of churning out the Finsbury Communist, attending other people’s meetings, making interventions and keeping up their correspondence file.

The attitude to China was complete agreement with whatever China’s policies was at that time, as he was reported to have explain it : “ I don’t think the Communist Party of China can be said to have ever made a mistake because whatever it did seemed like the best thing to do at the time.”

The FCA always qualified as a small group in ML terms: an organisation with fewer members than initials in its name. There was once an attempt in 1976 to join with various local people in, Finsbury in setting up the grandly named’ Working Class Party ‘ but complaints that FCA maintained a separate existence led to a break-up in the project. Later they persisted and worked with the local Islington branch Independent Working Class Association, set up by people from Red Action, but again the working relationship broke down.

  The view that they were a flea-like irritant for most of the ML movement,  Chairman of the RCLB describing their politics as ” a bourgeois game. They have contempt for the revolutionary struggle of the working class and their organisation is a mere excuse for the most self-indulgent individualism …Their stand is an insult to and an attack on the cause of building the Revolutionary Party of the working class.”  (Letter to Cde Hickey  (CWM) dated 22.2.1979)

There were attempts at joint work by the FCA in the late 197Os on the subject of building a movement to oppose Soviet Social-Imperialism. FCA co-operated with the Marxist Industrial Group in a number of meetings, participating for a while in the Interim Committee but such ad hoc enterprises wilted in the face of reality.

It was not until January 1989, twenty-five years after it came into existence that Finsbury Communist contained a reader’s letter asking “what do you stand for?”

As far as the ML movement was concerned the FCA favoured “some form of unity between the FCA, the Marxist Industrial Group and the Revolutionary Communist League and various individuals who appear to have a lot in common.” (Finsbury Communist 288  Jan 1989)

Unfortunately for the Kennas, the RCLB simply failed to acknowledge the existence of the FCA.

But the FCA remained’ steadfast and true’ as the old Boy Brigade motto has it. They organised Sunday evening discussion sessions at 72 Compton Street (near Farringdon Underground) as another ritual to the FCA’s existence.

The self-assessment the FCA gave of the ML movement applied as much to themselves,

“Briefly, the Marxist Leninists did not succeed in working out how they should function in imperialist society; a society which, for all its inner contradictions, seems likely to continue for many years yet.

The results is that the movement is now obviously reduced to a few small groups and individuals, generally without roots anywhere and with not the slightest ideas where they are going. Unity conferences programmes and manifestos become redundant within: a few months, when faced with reality. At times like this it is useful to remember one’s achievements. But these achievements are only in the realm of ideas. Ideas cannot survive outside the human brain. And so the movement has a duty to consider how best it is to survive and grow.” (Finsbury Communist May 1981)

In all of its existence, the FCA did not contribute to the growth of that movement. In: 1970 the FCA claimed that they owed “its existence partly to the correct criticism levelled at the Western Communist Parties by the CPC in 1963” (Finsbury Communist 66  July 197O) unfortunately the FCA never took those criticisms to heart, and remained largely irrelevant, on the fringes of the ML movement, opportunistically tolerated by some sections, shunned by others.

The FCA found new opportunities and associates were made of old opponents ,when it became active in the political conglomerate that united self-described Stalinist, Marxist-Leninists, pro-Soviets and the odd maoist in the  Stalin Society.

Organisationally, Ivor kept busy as London Branch secretary of Celtic League and the friendship organisation Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding – SACU, and the anti-revisionist Finsbury Communist Association. In later years he was a stalwart of the Stalin Society and spoke at the CPGB (ML) meetings. Compiler of online China Eye’s “Sinophile by Flo and Ivor Kenna”, he maintain a record of postal contributions going back to SACU’s foundation and SACU News in the 1960s. Ivor was a constant letter writer, his name attached to many missals to a wide range of publications from the local Islington Gazette, Camden New Journal, to less mainstream outlets like Morning Star and Weekly Worker.

And over the years, he would churn out the Twitter equivalent The Finsbury Communist and maintained the production of this four-paged duplicated monthly since February 1965, as the vehicle for a running commentary on life and politics in Islington’s Finsbury ward, the Left movement and the world.

Ivor Kenna died aged 89 on June 3 2021

Samples of his contributions……

Letter to What Next? No.14 1999

Police Spies and Madmen

THERE ARE probably police spies and certainly mad people in the left movement. However, calling a comrade a police spy or a madman effectively blocks discussion. May I offer an alternative explanation? Some of us believe that the objective situation is ripe for revolution or, at least, for radical change. These I term the instant revolutionaries. Others on the left believe that it will be a long haul.

The instant revolutionaries keep themselves in a state of continuous alert. But still revolution or radical change does not happen. They try every means that they can think of to convince people to rise up. Still nothing happens.

The first explanation that occurs to them is that people are being misled. It is but a short step from there to a belief that they are being deliberately misled. Who would deliberately mislead people? Agents of the ruling class, of course.

I was in an organisation once where one of the members was convinced that the leadership was a ruling class fifth column and circularised all and sundry accordingly. The leadership over-reacted and the comrade was expelled. The real explanation for the comrade’s conduct is that he is an instant revolutionary who was disappointed with the organisation’s progress. This does not just happen with those of us who are, like John Maclean, on the left of the left. When the Socialist Labour Party was formed, Ken Livingstone as much as asserted that Arthur Scargill had been put up to it by MI5. Ken Livingstone has plans for the Labour Party which entail keeping the left within the party.

So, please, let’s stop throwing round labels such as police spy, madman, or even stalinist, trotskyist or maoist, etc, in order to avoid reasoned analysis of other comrades’ arguments and of the objective situation.

Ivor Kenna

Letter to Labour Affairs , part of the former B&ICO stable of publications

JULY 9, 2021

Ivor Kenna’s Last Letter

It is with great regret that we learn of the death in London of Ivor Kenna, an Anti-Revisionist and campaigner for national rights. He died on Thursday, 3rd June. As Flo Kenna has told us: “He really enjoyed your publications”. Ivor was born on 28th July 1931, so he just missed his 90th birthday. Flo and her husband were true comrades: they were married for sixty years. A sad loss.

The Anglo-Saxons

I was very interested to read Brendan Clifford’s quotation from Sir Charles Dilke: “The Anglo-Saxon is the only extirpating race on earth” . The Anglo-Saxons extirpated the Maoris, until the Maoris stopped them, the Australian aborigines to some extent, the Tasmanians complete, the North American nations, to some extent.

New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania and North America are in temperate climes, suitable for Anglo-Saxon settlement.

Nearer home there were white Christian nations to deal with. If the inhabitants were prepared to become English-speaking they would play a useful role in the British Armed Forces alongside Englishmen in conquering as much of the world as possible.

The Cornish were to be treated as English (see John Angarrack’s book Our Future Is History).

The Scottish and Welsh languages were banged out of their speakers by such devices as the Welsh Not.

Ireland was more of a problem. Seventeenth century English population experts such as Petty seriously discussed getting rid of the Irish out of Ireland by any means necessary and settling English people there.

Later on in the 1840s, potato blight spread remarkably quickly to Ireland and North-West Scotland, leaving England untouched.

The Penal Laws did have some success in turning Catholics into Protestants.

Henry of Navarre, who turned Catholic to become King of France said “Paris is worth a mass”.

Irish people who turned Protestant were of the opinion that material possessions and higher social status are worth not having a mass.

Ivor Kenna

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]

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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.