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    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. 


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 (

[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


See:  and

[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.

140. Research Note~ response to 1973 coup

Organisations big and small commented on the 1973 coup, pamphlet after pamphlet and article after article of in-depth analyses devoted to Chile came from all varieties of the political left, where the minutiae of Allende‘s brief tenure were forensically examined. Such analyses conclude with different emphasis that revisionism, reformism and nationalism can only lead the working class into a fascist blind alley. More than 3,000 people were killed in the first months following the coup. More than 200,000 were arrested. Subject to illegal detention, torture and other human rights abuses, their children stolen and 30,000 people disappeared before the dictatorship finally ended in 1990.

To read more download here

Chile , China & diplomatic silence

The friendly relations between China and Allende’s Chile, followed by diplomatic silence and business-like relations with Chile under Pinochet broke an unspoken contract that revolutionaries without power expect better of Socialist states they admire and defend.

The international communist movement gets conflated with behaviour of regimes negotiating the currents of international relations in a hostile imperialist dominated world. Historical precedents abound of disillusionment and sense of betrayal engendered by the pragmatic nuisances and decisions taken from Brest-Litovsk onwards.

Former regime supporters of different political currents  can name their own pivot event that shredded the bounds of friendship and solidarity : non-aggression pacts, suppression in Hungry, peaceful co-existence, the Sino-India border war, invasion of Czechoslovakia, Sri Lankan revolt, war in the Horn of Africa, three world theory, the occupation of Kampuchea, teaching Vietnam a lesson or the silence over Chile. The tapestry of issues is beyond this simple chronology of articles in the English language edition of Peking Review on Sino-Chilean relations and the aftermath of the 1973 military coup.

Continue reading    Friendly relations   

Of related interest

English edChile: An Attempt at “Historic Compromise”

Compass Points North

Reaching Out: Global Maoism

58. Global Maoism

45. Guilty to the charge of promoting revolution

Research Note: Tron recalls……

Tron Øgrim (1947–2007) was, during the 1960s and 1970s, the International Secretary and political ideologue of the Norwegian AKP(m-l), Arbeidernes Kommunistparti (marxist-leninistene). He left the organisation in 1984. He died on May 23rd 2007.  Still fondly remembered.

hqdefaultBEWARE fifteen years have passed, these rough working notes are digests of internet postings & email musings, “was there, remember some of it. [This] only very rapid jottings of the type I would never publish – more like talking in the bus…”  So not fair to attribute this as a source to Tron, not a quote but more or less what he said as it is an edited version of what Tron was understood to be saying, and he can’t be held responsible for any misinterpretation and the linguistic tiding up. Links and Italics are added working notes otherwise the rest derives from my man in the north. Postings were largely date from 2003/4 and gathered here ( and download)  as notes on

Maoism and the World Communism Movement

130. Research Note~ Albanian Attitude towards the Cultural Revolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


1964 Premier Chou Enlai in Tirana 

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

1964 Zhou in Albania-a memoir


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


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

1966 hoxha_conversation_with_chou_en_lai_entry in his Political Diary.


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

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

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

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

Still the outward appearance was very different:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Albanian view of class struggle within the country was that

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

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

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

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

Shehu and mao

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

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

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

Beacon quote

A sentiment echoed in the Marxist-Leninist movement internationally.

See also When Enver Was A Maoist



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

[ii] Newsweek August 14, 1967

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

Re-tuned to Radio Tirana

The PLA on Modern Revisionism

63. Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania

Friendship and Solidarity with Socialist Albania, part two

33. Enver Praises Mao (1973)

Tirana builds an Internationale (1)

118. Political Art, MRPP-style

In Portugal , prior to April 1974, political graffiti rapidly scribbled subversive political sayings waged against the fascist regime had been employed to express opposition to the “New State”.

Developments after saw “elaborated mural paintings were already being made, inspired by other revolutionary muralist traditions such as the Mexican and the Chinese ones. The new atmosphere of political freedom and social experimentation paved the way for revolutionary political messages to be inscribed in visible and accessible public spaces.” [André Carmo]

Mural na Sede Nacional do PCTP-MRPP, Avenida Álvares Cabral..png

Mural na Sede Nacional do PCTP-MRPP, Avenida Álvares Cabral.

The explosion of popular street art and wall murals as a communication form was not restricted to the MRPP, by far the largest number of murals were carried out by the rival militants of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) throughout the country.   The mural paintings made by the PCTP/MRPP in aftermath of the 1974 Portuguese revolution were subject to academic study of the MRPP aesthetics in André Carmo’s article Revolutionary landscapes: the PCTP/MRPP mural paintings in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area [Finisterra, XLVI, 92, 2011, pp. 25‑2451]

These murals served as elaborate propaganda for the Maoist-inspired Proletariat Party Reorganization Movement (founded September 1970), legalized as a party on February 18, 1975, following the ending of the Salazar military dictatorship. On December 26, 1976, following the First National Congress, it was renamed the Communist Party of Portuguese Workers, with the acronym PCTP / MRPP.

The production of mural paintings were deliberate acts of political intervention 1975Guide for Agitation and propaganda

in a specific moment of the national life, current politics were discussed at the Central Committee level and then went all the way down until reaching the graphic committee (…) after defining the political guidelines to apply in the paintings they were discussed in the graphics committee and the propaganda department.

1975  Guide for Agitation and propaganda

The subject matter for this political wall art were calls for support in national legislative elections i.e. “In the Assembly the voice of labor against capital!” (1)and the MRPP mural in Portalegre representing Alentejo agricultural workers, and calling for vote in legislative elections in April 1976.(2)

(1)   In the Assembly the voice of labor against capital


(2) MRPP mural in Portalegre representing Alentejo agricultural workers, and calling for vote in legislative elections 1976.png


There was support for General Ramalho Eanes’ campaign for the presidential elections in June 1976 made on the walls of the Instituto Superior Técnico: Technical University of Lisbon, (3) and Eanes’ second candidacy for presidential elections in 1981. (4) The location reflective of PCTP/MRPP base of support in the politically active youth enrolled in universities and secondary education schools of Lisbon. Carmo notes this mural painting had to face great animosity from other radical leftist organizations, above all the UDP- People’s Democratic Union. Radical left party founded in 1974. Some of the people passing by requested to be depicted in the mural painting and, consequently, some of the human figures represented were real people who had to pose for the muralists; some of them stayed near the mural painting in order to help protecting it as well as the painters, from attacks.



Mural painting on Avenida Duarte Pacheco about General Ramalho Eanes’ second candidacy for presidential elections


May 1st commemorative mural in Alcântara Mar

(6)  PCTP-MRPP mural in Alcântara commemorating the 18th of September, the date of the founding of the party.Beside the expected commemorative calls: the May 1st commemorative mural in Alcântara Mar,  (5) and later (1995) PCTP-MRPP mural in Alcântara commemorating the 18th of September, the date of the founding of the party, (6) there were the general political positions and slogans associated with the party: most memorable (7) was Only Workers Can Beat the Crisis!’ the PCTP-MRPP mural on Gomes da Costa Avenue, Cabo Ruivo, a working class neighbourhood on the outskirts of Lisbon, in September 1977. It depicted a series of popular demands in line with the political ideology underlying the PCTP/MRPP, and its location reflected the audience it want to reach with its political message.


(8)  People’s Government, the MRPP mural at the Estação de Rossio, the primary station in Lisbon for the Lisboa-Sintra suburban railway.

Governo Popular

And PCTP-MRPP mural at Instituto Superior Técnico against censorship.(9)

Mural 1

Photographs by Rosário Félix housed by the Mário Soares Foundation

Archive Source ~ The Common House portal!e_692

will of the people
The Will of the People in the Assembly of the Republic. Vote PCTP / MRPP. Pictured is founding leader Arnaldo Matos (1939-2019).

Erro: Mao’s World Tour

On Mayday this year, the Mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson, open the exhibition Erró: Mao’s World Tour at Reykjavík Art Museum. Guðmundur Guðmundsson (b. 1932), better known as Erró, is probably the best known contemporary artist of Iceland. The Icelandic Pop artist is a regular fixture at the Hafnarhús site of the Reykjavík Art Museum, not surprising as it holds a total of about 2,000 items, including paintings, watercolours, graphic art, sculptures, collages and other works spanning the artist’s entire career.

Between 1972 and 1980, Erró painted the series Chinese Paintings, over 130 paintings which tell the story of a great leader who travels around the world. The Chinese Paintings made Erró famous internationally. The exhibition’s promotional material claims “the work well describes the artist’s witty humour”.

Each painting, like most other paintings by Erró from 1964 onwards, is based on a collage where Erró matches two images of different origins against each other: Chinese propaganda posters and Western tourist pictures from famous places. Erró pictures Chairman Mao on a triumphant tour around the world, when in reality Mao only made two trips out of China, both times to Moscow. Erró said: “I sent him on a trip around the world. I took him to Venice, Paris, New York. I made him a great traveller.” Although one might think that Mao’s was already a great traveller having experience the length and breadth of China in his own long march!

The imaginative series Chinese Paintings places Mao in various locations using his collage technique, cut together different times and realities, using depictions of Mao throughout his life including a Cultural Revolution favourite, the large oil painting

mao in veniceChairman Mao Goes to Anyan

Some saw the series as a sarcastic reference to the wave of Maoism which inspired groups of Western artists, intellectuals and politicians following the student radical surge of 1968. Although the Cultural Revolution in the People’s Republic was at least two years old.The series of pictures on Mao travelling the world is a product of its time as they objectifies both the utopian dream of the future and the fear of the Chinese Cultural Revolution spreading around the world, invoked hope and warmth in the hearts of many, or induced a great terror. The young ML movement did adopt the style, icons and phraseology of the Cultural Revolution but for all that they were never simply Beijing’s banches in Western Europe as some would have you believe.

While Erró is a postmodern painter and pop artist in Paris, his brother Ari Trausti Guðmundsson was involved in left wing politics as chairman of Communist Unity (Marxist–Leninist) 1973-79 and the merger of the two Icelandic Maoist organizations 1979-83; although he put such youth indiscretions behind him and became a member of the Icelandic parliament in 2016 for the Left-Green Movement.


Part 2 : Sketch of Icelandic Maoism

Reading More About Mao

Research Note:  bibliographic information on essays and articles that look at various aspects of Mao Zedong Thought with links where available. Of course, each item will have its own sources and selected further readings to build the library of material dedicated to explore Mao and his legacy.


Mao Zedong Thought Lives:

Volume 1 ~ Essays in Commemoration of Mao’s Centennial.

Jose Maria Sison & Stefan Engels (eds) 1995 Utrecht: Center for Social Studies, & Essen: Verlag Neuer Weg.

Contents | Mao Zedong Thought Lives

Stefan Engels | Mao Zedong’s Teachings on the Mode of Thinking

Alice G. Guillermo | Mao Zedong’s Revolutionary Aesthetics and ‘its influence on the Philippine Struggle

Armando Liwanag | Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought as Guide to the Philippine Revolution

Otto Vargas | Reflections on a Conversation with Comrade Mao Zedong

William Hinton | Mao’s Socialist line in Chinese Agriculture

William Hinton | Can Dragons Swap pearls with the Dragon god of the Seas?

D.Y.Hsu & P.Y.Ching | Labor reform – Mao vs, Liu-Deng

D.Y.Hsu & P.Y.Ching | Mass Movement: Mao’s Socialist Strategy for Change

Joshua S.S. Muldavin | From Mao to Deng: The Development of Underdevelopment in China

Carol Andreas | Women in the 20th Century China: The Maoist Legacy

Dieter Klauth & Klaus Arnecke | The 100th Birthday of Mao Zedong Marks the Triumph of his Ideas over Modern Revisionism

Carlos Echague | Mao Zedong and Social imperialism   (Different translation verison)

Raymond Lotta | Mao Zedong’s Last Great Battle,1973-76: The High road of Revolution

Wim F. Wertheim | Lasting Significance of the Mao-Model for Third World Countries

Giovanni Scuderi | Mao : A Great leader of the International proletariat and of Oppressed Nations and People

General Declaration on Mao Zedong Thought




Reading Mao

Appreciating Mao


Critical Perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought

Arif Dirlik, Paul Healy,  Nick Knight (Editors) 1997 Humanities Press, New Jersey

Contents | Critical Perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought

Paul Healy & Nick Knight | Mao Zedong’s Thought and Critical Scholarship

Roxann Prazniak | Mao and the Woman Question in the Age of Green Politics: Some Critical Reflections

Arif Dirlik | Modernism and Antimodernism in Mao Zedong’s Marxism

Nick Knight | The laws of Dialectical Materialism in Mao Zedong’s Thought: The Question of “Orthodoxy”

Paul Healy | A Paragon of Marxist Orthodoxy: Mao Zedong on the Social Formation and Social Change

Richard Levy | Mao, Marx, Political Economy and the Chinese Revolution: Good Questions, Poor Answers

Maurice Meisner | Stalinism in the History of the Chinese Communist party

Richard Johnson | A Compendium of the Infinite: Exercise of Political Purposes in the Philosophy of Mao Zedong

Liu Kang | The Legacy of Mao and Althusser: Problematics of Dialectics, Alternative Modernity and Cultural Revolution

Orin Starn | Maoism in the Andes: The Communist party of Peru-Shining path and the Refusal of History

Sanjay Seth | Indian Maoism: The Significance of the Naxalbari

William J. Dulker | Seeds of the Dragon: The Influence of the Maoist Model in Vietnam

J. Victor Koschmann | Mao Zedong and the Postwar Japanese Left

Emerita Dionisio Distor | Maoism and the Development of the Communist Party of Philippines


Quotations from Chairman Mao TseTung

Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History

Alexander C. Cook 2014 Cambridge University Press

Contents | Mao’s Little Red Book

Alexander C. Cook | The Spiritual Atom Bomb and Its Spiritual Fall Out

Daniel Leese | A Single Spark: Origins and spread of the Little Red Book

Andrew J. Jones | Quotation Songs: portable media and the Maoist pop songs

Guobin Yang | Mao quotations in factional battles and their afterlives: episodes from Chongqinq

Lanjun Xu | Translation and internationalism

Priyal Lal | Maoism in Tanzania: material connections and shared imaginaries

Sreemati Chakrabarti | Empty Symbol: the Little Red Book in India

David Scott Palmer | The Influence of Maoism in Peru

Elizabeth McGuire | The book that bombed: Mao’s Little Red Thing in the Soviet Union

Elidor Mehili | Mao and the Albanians

Dominique Kirchner Reill | Parisan legacies and anti-imperialist ambitions: the Little Red Book in Italy and Yugoslav

Quinn Slobodian | Badge books and brand books: the Mao Bible in East and West Germany

Julian Bourg | Principally Contradictions: the flourishing of French Maoism

Bill V. Mullen | By the Book: Quotations from Chairman Mao and the making of Afro-American radicalism, 1966-1975

Ban Wang | In the beginning is the word: popular democracy and Mao’s Little Red Book


+ Global Maoism


Robeson Taj Frazier The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination

2015   Duke University Press

Quinn Slobodian The Maoist Enemy: China’s Challenge in 1960s East Germany   Journal of Contemporary History 51(3) · July 2015


A Critical Introduction to Mao

edited by Timothy Cheek (2010) Cambridge University Press

Contents | A Critical Introduction to Mao

Timothy Cheek | Mao, Revolution and Memory

Joseph W. Esherick | Making Revolution in 20th Century China

Brantly Womack | From Urban radical to rural Revolutionary: Mao from 1920s to 1937

Hans J. van de Ven | War, Cosmopolitanism and Authority: Mao from 1937 to 1956

Michael Schoenhals | Consuming Fragments of Mao Zedong: The Chairman’s Final two Decades at the Helm

Frederick C. Teiwes | Mao and his Followers

Hung-Yop IP | Mao, Mao Zedung Thought and intellectuals

Delia Devin | Gendered Mao : Mao, Maoism and Women

Daniel Lesse | Mao the Man and Mao the Icon

Geremie R. Barme | For Truly Great Men, Look to This Age Alone: Was Mao Zedong the New Emperor?

Xiao Yanzhong | Recent Mao Zedong Scholarship in China

Alexander C. Cook | Third World Maoism

Charles W. Hayford | Mao’s Journeys to the West: Meanings made of Mao

Hang Yihua & Roderick Macfarquhar | Two Perspectives on Mao Zedong


The Emergence of Maoism: Mao Tse-tung, Chen Po-ta and the search for Chinese theory 1935-1945

Raymond F. Wylie 1980 Stanford University Press

Continuing the Revolution: The Political thought of Mao

John Bryan Starr 1979 Princeton University Press

Cult & Canon: The Origins and Development of State Maoism

Helmut Martin 1982 M E Sharpe, New York

Mao’s China and the Sino-Soviet Split, Ideological Dilemmas

Mingjiang li 2012 Routledge


Mao TseTung’s Immortal Contributions

Bob Avakian 1979 RCP Publications, Chicago.

The Loss in China and the Revolutionary legacy of Mao TtseTung

Bob Avakian 1978 RCP Publications, Chicago


Rethinking Mao: Explorations in Mao Zedong’s Thought 

Nick Knight 2007 Lexington Books

Mao Tse-Tung In The Scales of History

Dick Wilson (ed) 1977 Cambridge University Press

The critique of Ultra-Leftism in China 1958-1981

William A. Joseph 1984 Stanford University Press

Was Mao Really a Monster? : The Academic Response to Chang and Halliday’s “Mao: The Unknown Story”

Gregor Benton (Ed) 2009 Routledge

71. The CPB (ML) on revolution and British Trade Unions

~ Research Note ~

mayday meeting

In a celebratory article of Socialist Albania’s 35th anniversary of its founding there was praise for, what was increasingly the main theme of the CPB (ML)’s own politics, the historic struggle “for national independence and for socialism, because the two are ultimately inseparable” [The Worker #45 November 22nd 1979]. For the CPB (ML) the lessons were learnt: a historical-proven common sense one of self-reliance

“As in Russia, the successful revolutions there demonstrated how socialism in one country depends on understanding our national contradictions…..” The conclusion is that “All this means that socialism can only develop in one country- it cannot be exported or imported…. We can’t turn to a united international communist movement for aid, which is no great handicap really. We have to rely on our resources in any case.”   [The Worker #45 December 21st 1978]

This conclusion matched their recent experience that saw the end of fraternal relations with the Communist Party of China, sliding with the Party of Labor of Albania, but then becoming estranged from Tirana’s line that fraternal parties ought to organise the class in independent red union formations separate from the existing trade unions in their country. This line had not been favourably regarded by the CPB (ML) and it curtailed the political alignment with Albania, reducing coverage in the party’s paper and abruptly closing down the New Albania Society it dominated. In 1979 Albania almost disappeared from the pages of The Worker. Drawing upon all this the Fifth Congress of the CPB (ML) set itself a phenomenon task:

The survival of socialism and or the future of communism depend on the proletariat of the advanced industrial countries moving to revolution. The British working class and our Marxist-Leninist Party must each accept the responsibility which falls upon it, arising from its own particular historical development.

The abandonment of socialism in China and the aggressive assault on a neighbouring country is the same kind of setback for the world working class as the Soviet Union’s defection with socialism twenty years ago. [Editorial, The Worker #16 April 26th 1979]


While referencing the experience in China and the Soviet Union, but pointedly not mentioning the Socialist Republic of Albania, the CPB (ML) argued that what had not yet been proven was the capacity of a working class, having made the revolution, succeed in building and consolidating that socialist society. It asked,

“Where were the independent organs of a working class capable of challenging the emerging revisionist apparatus which was seizing hold of the socialist state to transform to transform it into capitalism?”

It had an explanation in that up till now socialist revolutions have occurred in countries where the industrial aspect has not been dominant, where the proletariat has been in the minority. It saw a solution in drawing upon the tradition of autonomous working class organisations – that is the British trade unions. The history and functions of trade unions as seen by the CPB (ML) was documented from its foundation in speeches, history notes and internal educational piece e.g. Notes on the Struggle of the Working Class in Britain, The Working Class, Past, Present & Future? and The Special Nature of British Trade Unions a speech by Reg Birch. With its specific class analysis codified in The Definitive Statement on the Internal Polemic, 1972-1974 [on classes] that there were only two classes in modern capitalist society, a dominant role was ascribed to the organised working class that is workers in trade unions. There is a narrow focus that is pale and male reflective of the organisation’s binary understanding of, and what constitute, class struggles. Intersectionality is not a concept to be found in the understanding or writings of the CPB ML. Revolution in Britain would come about through the ideological clarity gained through the kinds of struggles others denigrate as “economic”; trade unions were “schools for revolutionaries”, organs of mass struggle. The “two-class analysis” adopted by the Party in 1971 argued that in “Britain the oldest and most proletarianised of capitalist countries, all the intermediate classes left over by feudalism have been absorbed into the proletariat.” White collar workers were workers, none of this middle class fiction, please. As a class analysis to guide revolutionaries it had no use value, instead the explanation was that the class had chosen its organic form of organisation.

Union Day of Action 1977

“Over 200 years of class struggle have given British workers a tradition of organisation, democracy, discipline, knowledge, an accumulated experience, all this the property of their mass organisations. Within our class we have all the abilities and skills required to run our country in a socialist way. The character of the British working class is such that if once convinced of the need to discard social democracy and embrace its own natural ideology, revolution, it will pose new questions and formulate new solutions to the whole challenge of retaining control in a workers’ dictatorship.”

The Congress ’79 document made clear that “Weird notions such as ‘three worlds’ and ‘social imperialism’ are discarded. Proletarian internationalism is seen as an important practical matter, (already a reality embodied in various international bodies of the labour movement)” [Congress 1979]

Mayday 74

But to reassert the right of collective bargaining as a revolutionary act in contemporary imperialist countries raises the basic issues of the nature of the organised working class, the role of the unions today in the survival of (bourgeois) democracy, the stature of the labour movement “and how its Party works” . The answers supplied was one that explained the actual circumstances of the CPB (ML) as a minority force, and also its role in the protracted struggle in the ebb and flow of class struggle.

“The working class needs its own political party, a revolutionary party, as an expression of this class political consciousness, not to direct the struggle but to help make that struggle a consciously organised, united and protracted struggle whose end is the overthrow of the system that exploits us.” [Editorial, The Worker #12 March 22nd 1979]

The CPB (ML)’s singular compulsive focus on trade union work was on the misapprehension that: “They are more than just defensive organisations to protect workers from the excesses of the profit grubbers — they are an expression in organisational form of working class ideology.” [Editorial, The Worker #24 June 14th 1979]

That the CPB (ML) had seen itself as the “Party” of the organised working class because it was so embedded in the trade union bureaucracies reflects more on their political perspective than their marxist understanding. They argue:

“Ironically, some calling themselves Marxists and Leninists have wanted to import, even for Britain, the very features of the revolutionary movement in other countries which reflect the lack of a long continuous development of an organised working c lass: our own. Not until eleven years ago was there established for the first time in Britain a revolutionary party growing directly out of the organised working class here, having no other interests but those of that working class fully aware that the only revolutionary force is that same working class and that the revolutionary party serves the class and does not try to command or rule in its name.” [Editorial, The Worker #24 June 14th 1979]

They based their assertions on a simplistic observation of the time: the CPB (ML) argued, as if the empirical context was a permanent, that

“The consequent growth of bureaucratic capitalism has gone so far in a country like Britain that over 50 per cent of the working class are more or less directly employed by the state and any class struggle over the right of collective bargaining tends to become a conflict between workers and the state.” (Editorial, The Worker #10 March 8th 1979)

There is no differentiation between conflict with the state as employer at whatever level and capacity and the state as the coercive integrationist agent of a status quo ideology. Disputes with the bosses over “fair pay” are not regarded as challenging the imperatives of management but, for the vast majority of participants, more part of the corporate game. Recognition of the social relations dictated by the workers’ dependence on capital for the sale of their labour power can awaken a powerful awareness however for most it is about doing a job to earn the necessities and luxuries of life. If it was otherwise then talk of revolution would be unnecessary because it would have occurred.

aeuw march

The oblique critique publically given of Albanian criticism of trade unions can be seen in the passage contained in The Worker’s editorial:

Marxism and Unions

Ironically, the very ideas Lenin developed in applying Marxism to a situation different from that of capitalism’s home, Britain, have often been imported back into Britain as the only way forward to revolution. Since the day-to-day class struggle was assumed to be “economist”, without political significance, would-be Marxist theoreticians have called trade union activity “spontaneous”. Thinking of themselves as bringing Marxism to the workers from outside the class struggle between workers and capitalists they have said of such struggle, “since it is not what I think, since my thoughts, my plans for progress are not adopted, then it is without thought, that is ‘spontaneous’.” These ‘theoreticians’ have even wanted to write off altogether the trade unions developed by the working class over many decades as a defence to minimise the degree of exploitation and replace them with “red unions” of their own devising.”[Editorial, The Worker #35 September 13th 1979]

In the schematic approach drawn upon by the CPB (ML) is the rationale that:

“There must be an unqualified acceptance that the class struggle is waged most effectively, solely so, through the trade unions who are the most advanced section of their class … class struggle, which within capitalism goes on daily and continuously, is not synonymous with revolution, which is the accumulation of all forces within the contradictions gathered by the class in one fell blow to seize power and rule; but it need not and must not be separate.” The problem of the relationship between the two which is also the problem of the relationship between the trade unions and the communist party has never been solved because “no capitalist country has achieved a revolution.”

The rich development in Marxist investigation and understanding of the function of capitalist state within imperialist societies by-passed the certainties of the CPB (ML)’s apocalypse politics.

“Left to itself there is only one direction in which capitalism can be led by these contradict ions – to fascism and war. The working class in Britain has no alternative but to make revolution to prevent war and to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to put an end to capitalism’s contradictions by socialism….. it may well prove to be the case that the oldest capitalist country will also be the birthplace of socialism a s a permanent alternative to exploitative systems. From a revolutionised Britain a proletarian way of life, thought and action could spread to the rest of the world.”

After all, in the CPB (ML)’s universe:

1976 Reg at Belham Books speaking

“It is not a mere personal nor historical accident that the founder of our Party, presently attending the TUC conference as a member of the General Council, is an industrial worker and life-long trade unionist.

So much for any idea that in Britain today revolutionary theory must or could “come from outside the economic struggle”

The Worker, #35 September 13th 1979

1971 Kill the Bill

Research Note ~ the artist, Maureen Scott.

The picture space was crammed with figures and in the centre was a grim portrait of Pinochet with his henchmen and their victims floating in a river of blood. A bleeding Allende was also shown. Above the dictator, a giant male figure flanked by red flags carried by trade unionists strained mightily to break the chains that bound his wrists, while below the people marched forward holding aloft a flame of resistance.” MS Chile

From Left to right: Ken Hume (Chile Solidarity Campaign trade union organiser), Mrs and Mr Alvaro Bunster (ambassador to Britain from the Allende government and President of the Chilean Anti Fascist Committee), John Boyd, Luis Pavez (CUT) the AUEW’s President Hugh Scanlon, Elaine Nicholson (interpreter) and Maureen Scott (artist).

   It was painted in a gesture of solidarity, a mural in support of Chile for the Peckham headquarters of the AUEW. While a symbol and expression of the AEUW’s no truck coverinternationalism, the mural was taken into the AUEW museum shortly after it was unveiled in July 1976. The protest music of Chile, typified by the work of Víctor Jara, became an integral part of the Chile Solidarity Campaign in Britain. It was not alone in using culture to foster solidarity among trade unionists around the world in the hope that they would use their power to mount an international blockade of Chile’s commerce as explored in Ann Jones’ study , (available here) No Truck with the Chilean Junta.


The artist, Maureen Scott, was among the many talented and creative people drawn to political activism in the ferment of the 1960s . From August 1971 in the League of Socialist Artists (LSA),   Maureen Scott,  and other members of the group, notably her co-worker and husband Mike Baker (1972-90), and Bernard Charnley were active in politically motivated art projects.

Maureen Scott (b. 1940, Coventry), trained at Plymouth College of Art, Goldsmiths’ and St Martin’s while Bernard Charnley (b. 1948), a graphic artist studied at Leeds College of Art  were based at 18 Church Street, Camberwell ,The Communard Gallery, until 1975. Here they had exhibition space where they exhibited their own work, delivered lectures, published the poetry of the Turkish Communist Nazim Hikmet, The Wall , with illustrations by Scott, and generally promoted the cause of socialist realism. Amongst the titles they published was the 1973 polemic, “Liberal populism or revolutionary proletarian realism in art?”: a reply to John Weber of the Chicago Mural Movement and in 1976, the illustrated book, Class War in the Arts!

The LSA members were in addition to their artist activities were members of a small left-wing group, the Marxist Leninist Organisation of Britain. At the organisational hub of the MLOB, Maureen was also the LSA’s Provisional Secretary.

The League favoured the style of socialist realist art, and politically orthodox . “Our art must serve revolutionary politics. We place our art unreservedly at the service of the working class.”

Scott, Maureen, b.1940; The History of Labour
Scott, Maureen; The History of Labour; People’s History Museum;

“Within [the] overall tasks of the proletarian socialist revolution a role of unprecedented importance devolves upon… creative artists. For it is precisely through art that science., the knowledge, understanding and experience of the laws of motion of the universe, including particularly of human society, is distilled… artists, whether of the visual or the dramatic arts, are no less than “engineers of the human soul” [JV Stalin]… “Proletarian socialist art is a reflection in artistic form of the class struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie… The method of artistic creation of proletarian socialist art is therefore proletarian -socialist realism…”communard

“We Socialist Artists declare our aims and work to stand completely apart from and in irreconcilable opposition to the formalism and commodity fetishism of capitalist art which serves at one and the same time to mystify the movement  and conflict of social classes, to preach and inculcate the helplessness of man before the “unknowable” universe, and the  “atomic chaos” of the “existentialist” society – as also to provide the effete, luxury loving ruling class with those soporific, sensationalised and alienated titbits which might, for an hour or a day, provide an anodyne to bring forgetfulness of the moment of doom for their class which the approaching proletarian-socialist revolution is bringing ever nearer.”

Socialist realism was the only path: “In place of the pop art, mobile junk, psychedelic and other fringe lunacy of decaying capitalist art we will erect an art which expresses the dignity of working people, into which life is breathed from out of their very struggles…”

The “Theses on Art,” were put forward in 1972, by the “League of Socialist Artists”; this version  was first made available by American political allies in Alliance,  issue number 8, with the poems of Nazim Hikmet, illustrated by Maureen Scott. Their co-thinkers praised the contribution:

“We have still not found a better and more concise and clear expression of Socialist aesthetics and thus offer this in web form.”

bourgeois critic was less complementary:

“unfortunately typical of many, small, ultra-left political groups that they expend more energy attacking potential allies than their principal opponents.) Nevertheless, LSA members contributed to the Art Workers’ Subcommittee of the Artists’ Union, to ‘United We Stand: Exhibition in Solidarity with the Miners’ (London, Congress House, 1974), to a conference on art education and to a conference on art/politics, theory/practice held at the RCA in 1974.”

In discussing their cultural endeavours John Walker argued that: “Despite their left-wing rhetoric, in certain respects the LSA artists were conservatives: they believed in representation not abstraction, employed traditional techniques such as painting and drawing, accepted art galleries as places to display work and the necessity for artists to make a living by selling their products as commodities”

~ Walker, (2002) Left Shift: Radical Art in 1970s Britain. London: I. B. Tauris p51~

Publications of the League of Socialist Artists 

1972 Manifesto & Theses on Art  22 pages, published by League of Socialist Artists. 9780950297613.

 1973 Communard Gallery – forthcoming programme: Paintings, prints, posters, propaganda material for the working class movement (January 1972, 15 pages). 9780950264912.

 1973 “Liberal populism or revolutionary proletarian realism in art?”: A reply to John Weber of the Chicago Mural Movement publish date January 1973, 13 pages, 9780950297644.

 1975 Paula Modersohn-Becker,1876-1907

 1975 In commemoration of Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) 

 1976 Maureen Scott, Essays on art and imperialism – art and socialism

 1976 Class War in the Arts!: The League of Socialist Artists V. the “art and Culture’ Agencies of Monopoly Capital : a Collection of Documents in Struggle against Corporate Reaction in Art Produced by the League of Socialist Artists since Its Foundation in May 1971 . 0950154075

1977 Manifesto & Theses on Art. 3rd ed (19pages)


Illustrator’s Note

That Wall is a poem depicting the mass terror and widespread horror thrown up by capitalism-imperialism in the era of its senility. It is a poem showing one side of class struggle – the side which arouses the greatest feeling of revulsion and loathing, and which many well-intentioned people, particularly the type of liberal intellectual which forms the main prop of the revisionist parties, cannot accept. It does not lay emphasis on the strength, the creativity, the resource and unbounded resilience and reserves of the working masses who have the power to rise and destroy this ultimate product of man’s class-divided prehistory, and in this respect may be considered a pessimistic poem. I have nevertheless felt that, in an age when renegade ‘socialists’ seek to cover up the true face of capitalism, representing its ruling monopolist oligarchy as ‘striving for peace’, ‘more reasonable’, ‘interested in the preservation of mankind’, etc., the true face of brutality revealed to tens of millions of struggling peoples in all the continents of the world should find expression in images striving to portray the essence of capitalism-imperialism, and thereby helping to educate all those temporarily taken in by the illusion of relative class peace to a true stance of proletarian internationalism. For so long as exploitation, oppression and war should continue in any corner of the globe, it is necessary to strip away the false mask which the objective allies of imperialism give it, to make it stand exposed in all its diseased violence and inhumanity, so that working people the world over may unite the quicker in the titanic struggle to topple the ‘colossus with feet of clay’, and to usher in the era of socialism and communism. This aim, in my view, Nazim Hikmet fulfils in a powerful and convincing way in this poem.

Maureen Scott 1973

Link to:On Poetry by Nazim Hikmet


Maureen Scott life  from Facebook

Maureen Scott was born in an air-raid in Coventry in 1940 and this experience has broken through in her agitation and political art all her life. “Political protest painting has been the central part of my body of art starting in various art schools and continuing throughout my life.” Years of struggle and poverty with marital breakups, child loss, abusive relationships have influenced a serious of paintings on homelessness, grief and the perpetual study of the oppressed.

Examples at

Painting by candlelight

Maureen Scott’s earlier work deals with the struggles of the working class. Her painting Unemployed (1972), was created in a bedsit during a particularly difficult time in her life. The work expresses the issues she faced in the conditions her family were living in at the time. Having to paint by candlelight due to no electricity and having a lack of relevant support, she found her family relationships strained. The painting itself bears the marks of this austerity, with burn marks at one edge. The stark harshness and realism of Scott’s work act as a call to arms, to stand up and resist power imbalances and social injustice.

For three days a week, Scott painted by the light of a single electric light-bulb and for the rest of the time by candlelight due to her financial circumstances in the 1970s.unemployed

Unemployed (1972) reflects the challenges her family faced and the struggles of the working class – small living spaces, unemployment and the lack of child support.

“This painting was set in my one room with just space for my cooker on the Holloway Road,” she says. “The gloomy light was from a single light bulb and my hope for room to work and breathe only lay in dreams of success as an artist.”

She describes the piece as autobiographical. The father-figure is her partner at the time who died from a second heart attack. He had refused to take medication after the first. “It was a terrifying death I found impossible to deal with,” she said and underwent bereavement therapy in the 1990s

Rediscovered colour

 In the 1990s recovering from bereavement therapy and a pause from painting I returned to still life oil painting and rediscovered my love of colour. []

Maureen began drawing and painting as a small child. She went on to attend Plymouth College of Art in the early 60’s, then Goldsmiths College and Central St. Martins in the 70’s. At the age of…. she suffered a breakdown after her husband died and was admitted to Maudsely Hospital. Despite these turbulent years Maureen has accomplished a great deal including having her poetry published, working in Fleet Street as a professional litho printer and showing her artwork in exhibitions in the Whitechapel Gallery, Galerie Poll in Berlin and as far afield as Delhi and the USA.maureen scott artist

Her work is in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, Utrect and the Museum of Labour History in Manchester and Bethlem Archives and Museum.

The work on show at the Bethlem Gallery presents a side to Maureen’s work that is rarely seen. Her accomplished brush strokes reveal a sense of the artist’s daily life and what she sees around her; a mother and child in the kitchen, the veg for the evening meal, a favoured cat sitting on the tablecloth. The exhibition introduces us to the person behind the politics and invites us to enjoy the simple things in life.

In preparation is War Paint is a new book covering the artist and poet’s most productive period from 1990 to present day.

 “I could not live without canvasses, paint boxes, and easels. I was born with images in my head and I have a compulsion to make these images real. Some images are happy, some horrific. Some use colour the effect the viewer. My pictures are where I make the life I want to live. Unlike some fashionable, thus mega-rich artists who claim they believe in nothing, I am the opposite. I am full to the brim with everything and it over flows onto my canvass. I cannot stop it.”

* *  *

“Painting, for me, is literally a process of getting the images out of my head, I see an image and have to paint it.”

– Maureen Scott

 Thesis on Art cover