Considering Intrigue, a Cold war tale

Looking at the Aginter Press, and the attempted intrigue and neo-fascist contamination by the Far Right, which with Portuguese sponsorship, reached into the anti-revisionist movement involves a transnational look at Switzerland and beyond. The contradictions and weakness of the first Swiss anti-revisionist organisation, the Swiss Communist Party, led by Gerald Bulliard, secretary general of the party, provided an avenue for attempts from the Far Right to infiltrate those international forces engaged in anti-colonial armed struggle in Africa through maoist solidarity activity based in Switzerland. This preliminary attempt to unpick the various strands that are woven into a narrative of far right intrigue draws upon the existing literature in the absence of archival evidence or known Marxist-Leninist analysis.


The French leftist daily Liberation reported disturbing allegations that Portuguese documents reveal journalistic cover of the European press service, “Aginter Press” for an international fascist group. Evidence pointed to Aginter director Yves Guillou, alias Guerin Seracy and another Frenchman, Robert Leroy, as being the principle organizers of many of the bomb explosions in Italy associated with a “strategy of tension” including the one in December 1969 at a Milan bank, leaving sixteen people dead and over one hundred wounded. Several leftists are arrested and charged with the bombings and jail on false convictions.

According to Italian police report, Aginter Press served as a cover for an international fascist organization responsible for the planning and execution of many fascist attacks throughout Europe in the late 1960 early 1970s.

It also link group to bombings and counter insurgency and arms traffic. Liberation reported, an investigation by officers of the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement (MFA) that overthrew the Portuguese dictatorship in April 1974, corroborated the findings of the Italian investigation.

On the night of May 2l, 1974, the questioning of one PIDE agent revealed that the Lisbon-based Aginter Press Agency had served as a base of support for PIDE, and as a center for the coordination of the activities of related fascist organizations in other countries.”

 A searched of the deserted offices of Aginter Press, revealed information and archives on the activities of the agency, as well as facilities for the manufacture of false documents. This archive provided the main source for the prime exploration, the French-language study by Frederick Laurent,  L ‘ Orchestre Noir   published in 1978 in Paris.


Propaganda and Intrigue

Swiss Maoism was one of the stories Julia Lovell’s interesting global history of Maoism choose not to dwell on.[i] Certainly it was of negligible effect upon Swiss society but there was a disproportionate interest in the early days of the anti-revisionist movement there, not least due to the presence of, what was thought to be, the centre of China’s propaganda effort based in Switzerland, which aroused the interest of state agencies domestically and externally.

Switzerland, in January 1950, was one of the first Western nations to recognize the People’s Republic of China. Switzerland soon became a hub for the PRC’s diplomatic and trade activities throughout Western Europe, and was regarded as the centre of their propaganda effort in Western Europe. [ii]

The Chinese embassies were often the first call for the curious and did have a supportive role in developing friendship diplomacy, answering queries and supplying material on China such as pamphlets and Chinese magazines (and later the Little Red Book) on request. Adverse comments on the implication of Chinese authorities in the functioning of the friendship associations, proved more speculation than evidence about the role of the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland.

In the early 1960s Switzerland had two large Chinese diplomatic establishments – in Berne and Geneva – as well as the offices of Hsinhua (Xinhua News Agency / New China News Agency). The Berne-based staff in the embassy was larger than that in London, and only the Americans and Soviet embassy staffing was larger. Although Knüsel (2020) notes the Chinese staff included its catering and support staff unlike other embassies which used local services. Sections of the Swiss establishment took the view (shared by intelligent agencies) that Switzerland had been selected to play an important role in China’s strategy on the European continent – a position weakened when the Chinese embassy in Paris was established in 1964. By August 1967, as China withdrew its diplomatic staff worldwide, there were only 37 Chinese diplomats and officials left in Switzerland

A domestic factor was the anti-communist hysteria of the time that had shaped Swiss politics reflected in local media comment on the activities of the Chinese embassy. The Zurich weekly, Schweizer Illustrierte alleged

“It is beyond all question that not only is there gross overstaffing in it, but for years subversive and secret service activities have been organised there for a substantial portion of Europe.” (February 17th 1967)

Commenting on the atmosphere of the time, one journalist observed

“Political and cultural life in Switzerland in the 1950s was characterized by a particularly fervent anti-Communism. This position was sustained by Swiss authorities as they promoted “spiritual national defense,” a policy that consisted—in the struggle against Soviet influence—of subsidies for patriotic works of art or essays and the covert prosecution of citizens (in particular, intellectuals and artists) suspected of having Communist sympathies.” [iii]

The “Schweizerische Aufklärungsdienst” (Swiss Enlightenment Service, known by its initials SAD), founded in 1947 as the private successor to a state propaganda organisation, was a key player. SAD members sought to explain the dangers of Communism at lectures and conferences across the country, often with state financing. Only made legal in 1945 the Swiss Labour Party (Partei der Arbeit, or PdA) was mocked as the “Party of Foreigners” (Partei des Auslands) and its members were declared to be the enemy within. Their premises were attacked, several were fired from their jobs, and others were physically assaulted. [iv]

The Berne office of the New China News Agency provided reports, or propaganda as western commentators inevitably described them, for other pro-Chinese publications and interested parties. In 1963 it was commonly referred to as “a centre for the distribution throughout western Europe of Sino-Albanian propaganda”. The local Swiss media would inform its readers:

“This work, which is conducted by international agents for the cause of Mao Tse-Tung, is naturally supplemented in Western Europe by a heavy interlarding of suitable propaganda materials from the translator’s offices of the Chinese missions. But now everybody knows there are only three of them in Western Europe, namely in London, in Brussels, and in Bern.”[v]

The commercial distribution of magazine like Peking Review[vi] lay with local subscriptions agents often associated with the local communist party thus there was some diversification of suppliers to various non-revisionist groups. In Switzerland Nils Andersson, of a small progressive publishing house in Lausanne, played a part in the distribution of Chinese produced pamphlets stating its anti-revisionist case as well as Pekin Information. Andersson had published books censored in France in the midst of the Algerian war, followed by the publication of Mao Tse-tung’s works in French. Accused of subversion, in1967, the Federal Council voted for his expulsion for “endangering the internal and external security of Switzerland”.

The local Swiss media alleged that another group led by Gerard Bulliard had received large subsidies from the Chinese Embassy in Bern for their publication L’Etincelle over a period of fourteen months.[vii] The Zurich weekly Schwezer Illustrierte claimed Bulliard himself had received about £23,800 (286,000 francs), payment ending when he “lost favour” and the Chinese began supporting Nils Andersson.[viii] The Chinese authorities subscribed to hundreds of copies of Andersson’s Octobre publication through the state bookstore for foreign languages. This import of foreign books and periodicals did help to finance the emerging pro-Chinese movement in Switzerland and elsewhere. The Swiss Federal police had intercepted the order from China in its monitoring of the organisation.

Drawing upon Albanian archives Elidor Mehilli made the observation that in the early 1960s

“Albania’s party devised a special hard currency solidarity fund to assist Marxist-Leninists groups around the world. Initially it consisted of 700,000 US dollars. China issued half a million, and the rest came from internal funds. Here was the ruling party of a country that still struggled to feed its inhabitants, projecting itself as a source of revolutionary activism in the Third World and in Western Europe. In 1964, the party Secretariat disbursed money to marginalized Polish Marxist-Leninists; the Belgian Communist Party; the Communist Party of Brazil; the Communist Party of Peru; the Italian Marxist-Leninist paper Nuova Unita; and groups in Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Columbia. Activists in Australia and Ceylon were hired as foreign correspondents for the party daily. Small sums also went to a coterie of Marxist-Leninist characters in Paris and London (the short lived Committee to Defeat Revisionism, for Communist Unity), as well as in Vienna. The United States-based Hammer and Steel received modest contributions as well.”[ix]

The visits of foreign Marxist-Leninist to Albania were noted by the security forces:  approximately one trip to Albania each year by Swiss Maoists in the period of 1964-1970 and 974-77. These contacts, note Cordoba and Liu, aroused the curiosity of the police and led to a lot of speculation about possible subversion and guerrilla and espionage training camps.[x]

By late 1966, Knüsel (2020) calculates about 50 pro-Chinese organisations were thought to exist in Western Europe. The Embassy in Bern was regarded as been the hub for contact with these organisations, and the Swiss government suspected that the Embassy assisted these groups financially. Chinese officials also collected information about left-wing organisations and their publications.[xi]

Swiss media carried red-scare reports that the Swiss police had proved that the Chinese Embassy in Berne had promoted and supported subversive ventures through Europe. Schweizer Illustrierte alleged that 18 pro-Chinese Austrian communists had been on unspecified training course at the embassy and half a dozen pro-Chinese French communist had been given money and material by the Chinese embassy to split the much larger Moscow-orientated Parti Communiste Français, PCF. (February 17th 1967)

Whereas, unlike the courses provided for some by China’s military training at the Nanjing military academy [see Lovell, Maoism: A Global History] , the Swiss activists annual political pilgrimages to Albania mainly coincided with significant  state and party anniversaries and had the character of political tourism with a more familiar itinerary of factories, schools, cultural events and historical monuments. Other visitors, like the Spanish MLs, had a different itinerary and agenda in Albania.

Politicised friendship as expressed in friendship associations saw the creation of pro-regime groupings throughout Europe, often energised by maoist activists but not always controlled by them. Cyril Cordoba and Liu Kaixuan, building upon dissertation work entitled “Beyond the Bamboo Curtain: Sino-Swiss cultural relations and political friendships (1949-1989)”, discusses the implication of Chinese influence in the functioning of the friendship associations, especially the role of the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland. This was never crudely directive rather a more self-correcting mechanism by members seeking “friendship with China”.

The Associations suisses d’amitié avec la Chine in Switzerland which spread “friendship with China”, were unofficial regarded as part of the global Chinese “foreign affairs [waishi]” system that has attracted academic interest in recent years. The friendship associations throughout the world received material from the Chinese export company Guozi Shudian for distribution at generous discounts, if not free and they could use the benefits of the sales and magazines subscriptions as an important source of income. The role of such associations were part of the people-to-people tier of Chinese foreign diplomacy and while reflecting Chinese foreign policy priorities, they were not lobbying or influencers on their local state although occasional strayed into the realm of foreign diplomacy.

An uncritical allegiance to whatever was coming out of China was a characteristic of most of the friendship organisations that reflected the orthodoxy of supportive analysis whether it was from Maoist activists, young radical academics or old cultural friends of China. No Swiss city had a Chinatown or a district with a form of residential concentration, as one can find in Paris or London. Until the 1970s, the Chinese in Switzerland were few and highly qualified, often diplomats, international civil servants or people from wealthy families.

While active and having membership of the wider association, overall their political importance was peripheral – perhaps offering an introduction to the radical left party, and with the debate over three world theory, an audience and outlet for analysis and a substitute for a more overtly political commitment, they were never simply controlled or run by the Maoist organisations.

The Swiss friendship association took on a different character, suffering a severe reduction in membership after the death of Mao due to political disillusionment. Cordoba and Liu (2018) looking at the cooperation and contradictions between local Maoist parties, friendship associations and Chinese authorities conclude that they finally began to depoliticise – although supporting the post-Mao regime – and professionalise themselves from the 1980s , establishing a travel agency in 1983 and engaging in twinning agreements between Swiss  and Chinese cities. The association failed to survive the negative influence of the 1989 Tiananmen Square repressions, and officially dissolved in 1992.


[i] Lovell, Julia (2019) Maoism: A Global History. London:Bodley Head

[ii] Ariane Knüsel (2020) ‘White on the outside but red on the inside’: Switzerland and Chinese intelligence networks during the Cold War, Cold War History, 20:1, 77-94, DOI:10.1080/14682745.2019.1575368

[iii] David Eugster (2019) How the Swiss viewed Communism in the Cold War years swissinfo.ch  October 2, 2019

https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/switzerland-and-the-cold-war_anti-communism–fighting-the-devil-from-the-east/45267504

[iv] In fact, the extent to which the secret services and police tried to document and monitor supposed political infiltration only became clear at the end of the Cold War. The so-called Secret Files Scandal of 1989 revealed that notes had been made on the politically suspicious behaviour of almost 700,000 people. The focus was not just on communists but on anyone who criticised mainstream society: those with any sort of left-wing tendencies, Greens, alternative thinkers, Third World activists, or feminists. Eugster (2019) How the Swiss viewed Communism in the Cold War years

[v] The Pro-Chinese Communists in Switzerland. Neue Zuercher Zeitung , Foreign Edition #306 (Zurich) November 7th 1963 p13

[vi] The English edition of Peking Review/ now Beijing Review was launched on March 4, 1958. Bi-weekly editions in French and Spanish began fortnighly in March 1963, then Pekin Informa became a weekly from January 1964. (The Spanish edition was discontinued around 2004.) A weekly German edition (called Peking Rundschau) began on Sept. 22, 1964. English language archive at http://www.massline.org/PekingReview/

[vii] The Swiss organisation was not amongst the Marxist-Leninist groups recorded as having sent greetings to the fifth congress of the Party of Labor of Albania held in Tirana early November 1966, and published in a 212 paged booklet from the <Naim Frasheri> Publishing House.

[viii] Schwezer Illustrierte February 17 1967

[ix]From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World”. Cornel University Press 2017 p218. Activity explored when the Albanian archives opened up to western academics such as the aforementioned Elidor Mehilli and see Nicolas Miletitch, ‘Revelations des archives de Tirana’, Cashiers d’histoire sociale #6 (Spring /summer 1996) pp 83-96

[x] Cyril Cordoba and Liu Kaixuan, Unconditional Followers of the PRC? Friendship Associations with China in France and Switzerland, 1950s–1980s in: Europe and China in the Cold War  Exchanges beyond the Bloc Logic and the Sino-Soviet Split. Brill 2018 Series: New Perspectives on the Cold War, Volume: 6  p101

[xi] Ariane Knüsel (2020) ‘White on the outside but red on the inside’: Switzerland and Chinese intelligence networks during the Cold War, Cold War History, 20:1, 77-94


Intrigues amongst the Comrades

The fractious origins of the anti-revisionist movement in Europe was reflected in some of the relationship between comrades ostensibly on the same side of the ideological barricades which led, regardless of the subjective calls for unity,  to complications in attempts to consolidate the anti-revisionists into an effective expression of international co-operation .

There were multitudes of conflicting relations between  ML groups, domestic rivals (as in Switzerland) and internationally as illustrated in July 1975  when Austrian MLs related to the MLPO Marxist-Leninist Party of Austria,  raise public criticism of the KPD / ML regarding the distribution in West Germany of “Selected Programs of Radio Tirana”  a booklet published by the MLSK-Vienna” .It was available in West Berlin at “practically at all ‘left’ book stores, except the ‘Roter Morgen bookstore’ because the KPD / ML leadership “openly boycott the publication despite a shared allegiance to Albania but part of a wider dispute between the groups.

A decade earlier, in March 1965 L’Etincelle of the Swiss Communist Party stoked up an internecine discord amongst anti-revisionist groups aboard when its supplement announced,

“the Revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist Spanish Communist party (PCERML) had been officially created “by demand of several hundreds of Spanish workers throughout Switzerland, Belgium, France and England… and with the accord of Communists in Spain.”

At the time of the formation of the Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) in the autumn of 1964, the PSC had called “our Spanish comrades” not to adhere to these new groups which pretend to represent them. (L’Etincelle September 1964). The communique issued on behalf of the PCERML stated that the fault lay with Andersson and the Lenin Centre. L’Etincelle (September 1964) warned against “the sweet words and promises of the Centre Lenine.”

“We announced that in October 1964 the soi-disant Communist Party of Spain (Marxist-Leninist) was created in Geneva…Unfortunately, yet another time some adventurers with a large number of Asiatic credits wanted to deceive and throw powder in the eyes of those who closely follow the situation in Spain, and attempted in this way to harvest funds, of which the receivers would never be Spanish.”

Allegations continued claiming the first pro-Chinese Spanish communist party had been a dismal failure,

“Fortunately, thanks to the vigilance of true Spanish Marxists, the false politicians have been unmasked and will be judged as is necessary by the world’s revolutionaries. A page is turned on this sad event, and the Grippa group, falling apart and in flight, will not disappear from the scene more pitifully than it would have lived with foreign funds.”

L’Etincelle also suggested that a second Marxist-Leninist grouping had arisen in Belgium to challenge the Jacques Grippa-led Communist party.

“A delegation of the Swiss Communist Party, led by our comrade Gerald Bulliard, secretary general of the party, recently visited Brussels” The March edition of L’Etincelle reported, “In our next issue, we will publish the joint declaration drawn up between the leaders of the MOVEMENT OF PROGRESSIVE WORKERS OF BELIGUM (Marxist-Leninists) and our leaders. This meeting was fruitful and contributed to the reinforcing of the fraternal understanding between Belgium and Swiss Marxist-Leninists”

The Swiss Communist Party led by Gerard Bulliard  reporting on the creation of an International Revolutionary Front that both the Soviet and Chinese Communist Parties were more concerned with “its own national prestige” than defending the world revolution. Expressing sympathy for both Fidel Castro and Enver Hoxha the PSC sought to “join forces with the comrades of several countries and professing different ideologies but sharing identical goals” in the CFIR – Committee for an International Revolutionary Front – founded in Paris in November 1965. [L’Etincelle No,16 January 1966]

There was a swipe at parties who labelled others “as American agents, an expression quite popular these days and the obsession of the gangster Grippa, in Brussels.”

A known incident of infiltration of the anti-revisionist movement concerns Richard Gibson, the Black American journalist, formerly secretary of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in the United States.   Besides being responsible for the English-language edition of Revolution associated with Jacques Vergès, Gibson was active as an informer and spy for the CIA.[i]

Such activity to establish an ideal vehicle of infiltration was repeated after Bulliard’s explusion from the SCP and under the name of the PPS Parti Populaire Suisse, Italian investigators named Bulliard as an informer for the Servizio Informazioni Difesa (SID) Italian Secret Service when investigating right-wing terrorism around the Galido phenomenon in 1996.[ii]

 “GERARD BULLIARD, former secretary of the pro-Chinese Swiss Communist Party, in contact with the SID from March 1967 to July of that same year, he proposed itself to provide the Service with news on the activities of the pro- Chinese parties in Switzerland and in other European countries, with particular reference to ITALY…. had attended the planning meeting for the foundation on 22-10-1967 in TURIN of the Clandestine Marxist Leninist Revolutionary Front.” [iii]

Busky notes that hopes of forming a “Revolutionary International” had resulted in the establishment of the less ambitious Committee for an International Revolutionary Front, with Bulliard as its secretary.[iv]

The ambition of Bulliard to solidify a network of international groups on the basis of factional activity and without the political support of agreement from China was farcical –Bulliard had complained that “the comrades in Peking would think twice before following certain recommendations by their delegates in luxurious European embassies” – the PSC could not expect recognition or publicity to endorse their actions.

Grippa also complained of China’s lack of distinction between authentic and imposter Marxist-Leninist groups, others were also suspicious of their international colleagues. The British-based activist, William Ash (writing in his 1978 published memoirs) raised the thought that one-time leading European Maoist and veteran communist, Jacques Grippa

“ was quite possibly a Russian agent pretending to be Peking-orientated in order both to mislead…and to render an account to the Kremlin of who the main dissidents were.” [v]

The Belgian party led by Grippa was active in interventions in the arguments of other parties, raising criticism of surrounding revisionist parties in the pages of La Voix du Peuple of the Dutch (March 27 1964) and French (April 10 1964). Attention was also given to the emerging ML groups and judgement was unsparing on the Swiss activities, Grippa complaint to the Albanian authorities of the lack of scrutiny for ideological trustworthiness and proper ML credentials.  The Lenin Centre, whose credentials were impressive, countered the slanders from Bulliard published in L’Etincelle (The Spark), dismissing them as:

“..low provocateurs without any liaison either with the Marxist-Leninist International movement or the militant Swiss workers.” [vi]

Building an international network saw pole of attraction move from Brussels, from Switzerland to Paris with the editorial board of the slickly produced pro-Chinese journal, Revolution but eventually falter on the disengagement in such a project from China, Grippa noted ‘in dealing with us, China’s representatives in Europe were not ideological comrades, but bureaucrats, who feared the consequences of contacting with us’. [vii] 

Accusations and mistrust in pro-China anti-revisionism in Britain was also evident with the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain (who eventually came out in support of Liu Shao-chi rather than Mao) explaining events through a conspiracy prism as a result of intrigues against them and in favour of all the elements supposedly seeking to disrupt the developing Marxist-Leninist Organisation. As far as this minor English group were concerned, they saw themselves as the victims of “the Foreign Ministry and diplomatic service of the People’s Republic of China [that] were already dominated by counter-revolutionary agents of the Chinese capitalist class long before the “cultural revolution” began.” [viii]

Visitors would come for badges and copies of Mao’s Quotations – the Little Red Book- and talks with Chinese officials. Gaining “recognition” was a time-consuming vanity project for some activists seduced by the euphoria of revolutionary opposition. Good relationships with the office of the Charge d’Affaires and the Hsinhua News provided access to material, prestige and a reflective political vindication. There was another side to the relationship as Muriel Seltman’s memoirs observed:

Like others in the so-called Anti-Revisionist Movement, we regularly visited the Chinese Legation for talks on the progress of the ‘struggle’ in England. There was an element of competitiveness in this, each small group vying for the honour of ‘recognition.’ Again, we did not realise that the personnel at the legation were using us for their own advancement and their political fortunes and jobs depended upon the degree to which they could convince their superiors they were recruiting support in England for the Chinese Party. They were probably assessing the likeliest “winners” in the stakes for a new Communist Party. Everybody behaved correctly, of course, but at this time we had no idea that claiming support from abroad was part of the power struggle in China.” [ix]

There was no mention made in the ‘publication of recognition’, the daily bulletins of the Hsinhua News Agency, of the Conference of Marxist-Leninist Unity held in September 1967, nor of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain set up by that Conference! Except on one occasion, no invitations to receptions and film-shows at the Office of the Chinese Charge d’Affaires were extended to leading members of the group, and people who had long been on the official invitation list of the Chinese Charge d’Affaires office were dropped from it as soon as their membership in the M.L.O.B. became known.

 “It is clearly no accident” claimed the MLOB that an expelled member was closely associated with “the representatives of the People’s Republic of China in London”. Furthermore, “Certain diplomatic representatives of the People’s Republic of China in London went so far as to disseminate verbally slanderous attacks against certain of the leading members of the A.C.M.L.U. and later of the M.L.O.B…. In general, the office of the Charge d’Affaires and the Hsinhua News Agency gave support and publicity respectively to “broad organisations” of friendship with China, such as the “Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, Ltd.” and the “Friends of China”…. an organisation of friendship with China as one to foster support for the faction headed by Mao Tse-tung; it functions, therefore, as a propaganda arm of the Chinese capitalist class in Britain, and also, through its “leftist”, “revolutionary” pronouncements, as a net to catch anti-revisionists and divert them from the developing Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain.” [x]

These feuds and clashes attributed to the rough-and-tumble of politics were, setting aside the conspiracy prism, understandable phenomena but in Switzerland (and as disclosed years later, in the case of the Marxistisch-Leninistische Partij Nederland or MLPN) there were more sinister aspects to the intrigue.


[i] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/switzerland/notes-revolution.pdf

[ii] Daniele Ganser (2004) NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Routledge

[iii] SPECIAL CARABINIERI OPERATIONAL GROUPING Criminal proceedings against Rognoni Giancarlo and others. Rome, July 23, 1996

[iv] Busky (2002) Communism in History and Theory: the European experience. Westport: Praeger Publishers. A report by Italian Special Carabinieri Operational Grouping notes the planning meeting for “the foundation of the Clandestine Marxist Leninist Revolutionary Front” on October 22nd1967 in Turin. At the meeting was also present the Swiss Maoist, and source for SID Italian intelligence service, Gerard Bulliard.

[v].Ash, W (1978) A Red Square. London: Howard Baker.

[vi] State spying on dissident groups have a long recorded history, see note xx[vi]

[vii] Marku, Yibel (2017) Sino-Albanian relations during the Cold War, 1949-1978: An Albanian perspective (Doctor’s thesis, Lingnan University, Hong Kong). Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/his_etd/11/

[viii] See: Report of the Central Committee of the M.L.O.B. On the Situation in the People’s Republic of China. London: Red Front Special edition, January 1968

[ix] Seltman, Muriel (2010)  What’s Left? What’s Right?  Dorrance Publishing Company, Inc.

[x] MLOB – Red Front, January 1968


Provocations & Infiltration

‘Red China’s Far Right Friends’ makes for an eye-catching headline, peppered with references to interference from its secretive embassies sponsoring far left activities and you have a classic conspiracy scenario.

The attempt to infiltrate the movement in those moments of factional fighting within it during the earlier stages of its history were real, and in perspective, temporarily successful in the case of the use of the PSC.  The argument becomes unstainable, over-extended when construct an interlocking network of relationships to taint a single movement with extensive speculation. There is a picture painted of Far Right infiltration, citing their own publications and using a few examples of actual attempts, as if the exception was the rule.

Flirting with the Left is treated at face value rather than taken as the attempted intoxication and manipulation it tactically represents for the far right activists. A flirtation assumed to be reciprocal, and accepts as factual the Far Right testimony offered, without challenging their printed analysis as an actual reflection of what was happening. As if the ideas expressed by these neo-fascist provocateurs and infiltrators were not questioned, challenged and rejected by the Maoist left at the time. The mainstream interpretations of the relations between Maoists and the Western far right was one of hostile opposition, anti-fascism being one of the active platforms that Maoist militants throughout Europe were engaged evident in any reading of the publications of the time.

An objective presentation of the existing documents and materials, based on the testimonies of the participants and secondary sources is seldom achieved when exploring such topics. A review of the literature has the few examples overstated and repeatedly drawn upon the same source material with a journalistic approach that conditions the narrative.

There is a narrative of a supposed marriage of convenience that side-lines important considerations, and builds upon exceptional incidents to draw a broad conclusion resting on the filmiest of accounts, decontextualized selectivity of the evidence, and subjective desires, their own version of the truth which is not compatible with the others. Compelling evidence is absent, and given the furtive nature of subject unlikely to found.

The use of PSC & the enigma of Bulliard

Gérard Bulliard, expelled from the PvD, as secretary general was the public face of the Swiss Communist Party – PCS created in September 1963.

He had a militant background in Vevey of the Workers Party and Popular Vaudois, section of the Swiss Labor Party, PvD. He had visited Albania in the summer of 1963 before breaking away to establish the PCS. Bulliard had a chequer career in the anti-revisionist movement. Within three months of its founding former members were establishing an alternative, and more successful grouping in the Lenin centre publishing Octobre, and a few months after that Bulliard adopts anti-Chinese positions (whilst remaining anti- CPSU) because of Chinese support for that alternative grouping around the journal Octobre. Described as “Megalomaniac and mythomaniac”, Gérard Bulliard never succeeded in developing his small group, from which he was himself expelled by an “Extraordinary Congress” on May 29, 1967.

The temperamental Bulliard most constant factor, according to the CIA-funded Radio Free Europe, was “a visceral anti-Semitism” speculating which may have eased infiltration by fascists agents. [i]

The subsequent behaviour and politics of Bulliard would suggest a rapid move to the right after his expulsion from the PCS.   He therefore continued his activities, from September 9, 1967, in a group called Parti Populaire Suisse – PPS, led by Marc Chantre, and, under the influence of a former French SS, Robert Leroy, will make the PPS an anti-Semitic organization serving as a cover to far-right that would last until media exposure at the end of August 1969.

The PPS publication retained the name of that founded by Gérard Bulliard who had published 29 issues of l’Etincelle, and of which this new number was presented as the continuator.  An editorial by Bulliard, which specifies that his new party remains pro-Chinese but that “the most concrete example for us as regards the creation of our socialist society is the German Democratic Republic” where Bulliard has just made, in August, a study trip. This stance should raise questions about his anti-revisionist credentials. The paper also publishes several articles, in particular on” the Angolan revolution “, by Jean-Marie Laurent, presented as an” excellent comrade “and who was in fact a former member of the OAS, working with Robert Leroy in Africa then in Italy.

What was disclosed by research following the 1974 Carnation Revolution was that a Lisbon-based “news agency” Aginter Presse had initiated a series of operations aimed at weakening and destroying guerrilla groups fighting for national liberation in Portuguese Africa. These activities were undertaken at the behest and with the direct assistance of the PIDE/DGS which began in 1966. It was argued that “the infiltration of pro-Chinese [Maoist] organizations and the use of this [leftist] cover was one of the great specialties of Aginter”.[ii]

 Aginter Presse correspondents reported

“Pro-Chinese circles, characterised by their own impatience and zeal, are right for infiltration. Our activity must be to destroy the structure of the democratic State under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities; we have already infiltrated some of our people into these groups.”[iii]

Aginter found the vehicle to use, an ostensibly Maoist organization headed by Gerard Bulliard. The Aginter man responsible for arranging this was Robert Leroy. It is alleged that with support from the Chinese embassy in Berne, which was believed to be the Chinese overseas intelligence agency’s main headquarters in Europe, Bulliard was persuaded to hire Robert Leroy and other Aginter personnel as correspondents for L ’Etincelle.

Armed with these credentials, Leroy and Jean-Marie Laurent were able to penetrate “liberated territory”in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique in order to “interview” several African guerrilla leaders. After doing so, they engaged in intoxication operations to provoke dissension within the resistance movements, and Robert Leroy later exercised his talents in Italy.

An article in the Italian weekly news magazine ‘L’Europeo’ (November 1974) on the activities of Aginter Press noted that in Africa it planted people inside the national liberation movements. There is a lengthy document, in the records accessed at Caxias prison, setting out the attempt to spring from a Kinshasa jail one Aginter-Press agent arrested “for Maoist propaganda”. [iv]

Laurent, suggests that in addition to their African ventures, Aginter “correspondents” also infiltrated the Portuguese opposition in Western Europe by posing as Maoist journalists. [v]

The work [vi] of Jeffrey Bale challenges what is a complex narrative which, in one line, is that Bulliard’s party was a genuine Maoist organization which was manipulated by Leroy into providing Aginter operatives with legitimate left-wing credentials. This is what Bulliard himself claimed after the activities of Aginter were exposed in revelations after the Carnation Revolution of 1974.[vii]

However American academic Dr Bale disagrees and suggested that Bulliard was himself a neo-fascist provocateur who had consciously established a phony Maoist party which could be used as a cover by the far right.[viii]

That would raise questions about Bulliard’s previous involvement and commitment in the PvdA: was the PSC an existing agent moving into a potentially more radical stream rather than a duped, and increasingly reactionary personality alien to the maoist movement? Is Bale wrong in his assessment?

Bales draws upon a Swiss source to add to the charge with evidence that Bulliard was working as a paid informant for Marc-Edmond Chantre’s virulently anti-Communist Aktion freier Staatsburger organization in 1964, the very same year he formed the PCS.[ix]  Chantre, a former member of the Action Nationale, and his post-war group, (like the Economic League in Britain) compiled a large archive of files on suspected leftists in Switzerland prior to its dissolution. [x]

Furthermore, Bulliard was said to be in contact with Manuel Coelho da Silva (alias “Manuel Rios”), a PIDE/DGS informant within the major anti-Salazarist opposition group, the Comite Portugal Libre in Paris. Adding to the prosecution’s case was that Italian investigators named Bulliard as an informer for the Servizio Informazioni Difesa (SID) Italian Secret Service when investigating right-wing terrorism around the Galido phenomenon in 1996.[xi]

 In other words, Bulliard was undoubtedly for Bale a “player” rather than a dupe. At the time the question of whether Bulliard was a deceived naive or an agent of the extreme right from 1963 was not settled.  Is this web of connections strong enough to support a judgement either way? The argument that there is evidence that as leader of the PCS, Gérard Bulliard, was in fact a neofascist provocateur, and his party a phony organization brings forth a Scottish judgement of unproven. It may well be that Bulliard was reflecting in his eclectic political practice a cultural legacy of the predominate imperialist social democratic ideology of Swiss society.


[i] Kevin Devlin, ‘New Left’ opposition to Swiss CP. Radio Free Europe Release 0317 October 7, 1969

[ii] Laurent, Frederick (1978) L ‘ Orchestre Noir  Paris: Stock. p148. (Unseen)

[iii] Quoted in many accounts including Stuart Christie (1984) Stefano Dell Chiale: portrait of a black terrorist. Refract publication

[iv] https://christiebooks.co.uk/2019/03/aginter-press-and-the-strategy-of-tension-translated-by-paul-sharkey/

[v] Laurent, Frederick (1978) L ‘ Orchestre Noir  Paris: Stock, pp. 148-9, 151

[vi] Bale, J.M. (1994)   The “Black” Terrorist International: Neo-Fascist Paramilitary Networks and the “Strategy of Tension” in Italy, 1968-1974. Doctorate Thesis University of California at Berkeley

[vii] See his letter to the post-coup Portuguese authorities in Laurent, Orchestre noir, pp. 148-51; Bale recommends that for the Bulliard affair, see the 11 April 1975 letter from the SDCI investigators at Caxias to the Portuguese consulate in Paris, plus appended documents in Laurent pp. 148-51.

[viii] See Jeffrey M. Bale, “Right-Wing Terrorists and the Extraparliamentary Left in Post-World War II Europe: Collusion or Manipulation?”. Lobster #18 October 1982:2-18 note 108.

[ix] Citing Claude Cantini, Les ultras: Extreme droite et droite extreme en Suisse. Les mouvements et la presse de 1921 a 1991 (Lausanne: En Bas, 1992), p. 161, note 136. (unseen)

[x] ibid, pp. 89-91;

[xi]   Daniele Ganser (2004) NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Routledge


Aginter Press

The tangled web of accusation and conspiracy around the exposed intrigue of fascist infiltration and manipulation to achieve their goals in Switzerland that centres on the activities of Aginter Press are based on facts. Aginter Press did attempt to successfully infiltrate via the Parti Communiste Suisse, which was subject to monitoring by Swiss domestic state services. Was the CIA and KGB twiddling their thumbs? Willy Wottreng, a former leading member of the KPS/ML, informed Ariane Knüsel (2020) that when China opened an embassy in Rome, the Swiss Marxist-Leninist Party (KPS/ML) suspected that the Chinese missions in Switzerland were under surveillance and usually travelled to Rome instead of Bern or Geneva whenever they wanted to meet Chinese diplomats.)

Aginter Press (aka “Central Order and Tradition”) was a pseudo press agency set up in Lisbon, Portugal in September 1966, under Salazar’s dictatorship (so-called Estado Novo). Directed by Captain Yves Guérin-Sérac, a Catholic anti-communist activist who had taken part in the foundation of the OAS in Madrid, a far-right terrorist group which struggled for “French Algeria” during the Algerian War (1954-1962), Aginter Press was in reality an anti-communist mercenary organisation. The news agency, simply a cover to allow Aginter’s operatives to travel freely. Besides its journalistic cover, it trained its members in covert action techniques amounting to terrorism, including bombings, silent assassinations, subversion techniques, clandestine communication and infiltration and counter-insurgency.

An internal document summed up Aginter’s key beliefs:

The first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favoring the installation of chaos. [ . . . ] In our view, the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities. [ . . . ] Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu—propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our communist adversaries.

After 1969, Aginter shifted its focus from Africa to Europe. In this second phase, which lasted from 1969 until Aginter’s formal dissolution in 1974, agency personnel offered their specialized guerre revolutionaries training to a number of authoritarian regimes in Latin America, and were in fact hired to provide it in Guatemala and post-Allende Chile.


For Aginter Press, Robert Leroy was responsible for this “collaboration” who specialized in obtaining information on the left acting on the cover of journalism.  Robert Leroy, imprisoned in France for collaboration from 1945 to 1955, worked for an alleged press agency, Aginter Press, created to promote the infiltration of pro-Chinese organizations in order to use them as cover to approach and liquidate guerrilla leaders in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, installing provocateurs there, creating false resistance groups and infiltrating the Portuguese opposition in exile.

From 1968 to 1970, according to his own admission, Leroy collaborated with Guillou at Aginter until his left-wing cover was “burned” by various journalists and he lost his ability to continue conducting “infiltration and intoxication” operations although disputed sources raise implications in assassination – no proof in the normal corridor of mirrors that speculation leads you down.

 The narrative moves to Italy

The exposure of the contamination in Switzerland is followed up by looking at the activity of Aginter Press elsewhere, specifically its activists in Italy. Here again what came to light followed investigation and exposure of a vast conspiracy by the right wing, in concert with state actors, to use the Left.

The conspiracy narrative ties in the action of Aginter Press and others with the wider existence of the anti-communist Gladio project[i] the Western European network of equipped and trained resistance “Stay Behind” groups to fight a Soviet invasion disclosed in November 1990. Supposedly to thwart future Soviet invasions or influence in Italy and Western Europe, in fact, implicated in a strategy of tension, a campaign of false flag bombings and attempted coup d’état organised by the Italian neo-fascists with support from Masonic Lodge Propaganda Due (P2) and Gladio, NATO’s stay-behind anti-communist networks during the Cold War. The objective of this ‘strategy of tension” was to ensure that leftists and Communists could not come to power in Italy by creating a psychosis of fear of the left among ordinary Italians and a desire for strong, authoritarian government.

The “Strategy of Tension” itself was outlined in a document which came to light in October 1974. Dated November 1969 it was one of a number of dispatches sent to Lisbon by Aginter’s Italian correspondents. The document is entitled “Our Political Activity” which it explains thus:[ii]

“Our belief is that the first phase of political activity ought to be to create the conditions favouring the installation of chaos in all of the regime’s structures. This should necessarily begin with the undermining of the state economy so as to arrive at confusion throughout the whole legal apparatus. This leads on to a situation of strong political tension, fear in the world of industry and hostility towards the government and the political parties… In our view the first move we should make is to destroy the structure of the democratic state, under the cover of communist and pro-Chinese activities. Moreover, we have people who have infiltrated these groups and obviously we will have to tailor our actions to the ethos of the milieu – propaganda and action of a sort which will seem to have emanated from our communist adversaries and pressure brought to bear on people in whom power is invested at every level. That will create a feeling of hostility towards those who threaten the peace of each and every nation, and at the same time we must raise up a defender of the citizenry [sic] against the disintegration brought about by terrorism and subversion… “

The report goes on to describe the political situation in Italy and the emergence of the extra-parliamentary left: “Outside the present contingencies these people are possessed of a new enthusiasm and huge impatience. This fact should be carefully considered. The introduction of provocateur elements into the circles of the revolutionary left is merely a reflection of the wish to push this unstable situation to breaking point and create a climate of chaos…” The unknown author concludes: “Pro-Chinese circles, characterised by their own impatience and zeal, are right for infiltration… Our activity must be to destroy the structure of the democratic State under the cover of communist and pro- Chinese activities; we have already infiltrated some of our people into these groups…”

 According to the Italian Senate report on Gladio and on the strategy of tension, headed by Senator Giovanni Pellegrino, the CIA has supported Aginter Press in Portugal. The Commission stated that:

“Aginter Press was in reality, according to the last obtained documents acquired by the criminal investigation, an information centre directly linked to the CIA and the Portuguese secret service that specialized in provocative operations.”

In the televised testimony of unrepentant neo-fascist bomber Vincent Vinciguerra, he described the international co-ordination by European and American intelligences agencies – referred to as the Berne Club – which had been active during the Cold war period in the internal Italian political battles because of the initial fear of possible PCI involvement in national government.[iii]

Italian magistrate Guido Salvini, in charge of the investigations concerning the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, explained to the Italian senators that:

“In these investigations data has emerged which confirmed the links between Aginter Press, Ordine Nuovo and Avanguardia Nazionale… It has emerged that Guido Giannettini [one of the neo-fascist responsible of the bombing] had contacts with Guérin-Sérac in Portugal ever since 1964. It has emerged that instructors of Aginter Press. .. came to Rome between 1967 and 1968 and instructed the militant members of Avanguardia Nazionale in the use of explosives.”


[i] Ganser, Daniele (2004) NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe. London:Routledge

[ii] https://christiebooks.co.uk/2019/03/aginter-press-and-the-strategy-of-tension-translated-by-paul-sharkey/

[iii] Quoted in BBC2 TV three-part Time Watch documentary on Gladio – available on YouTube – broadcast June 1992.


False Flag Operations

This has been built upon and widen to encompass the involvement of far-right terrorist actions in Italy, and Aginter Press played an important role in implementing its “tension strategy” in Italy, and some researchers of the deep state have constructed what they characterise as a  “Nazi-Maoist” operation. This ideological incoherent position is built upon reasoning that it would be in the interest of the CIA to deepen the communist fracture of the Sino-Soviet split therefore its agents strengthen and develop the “Maoist Left”, a senario where, specifically, CIA agents were responsible for encouraging the spread of that ideology (Maoism).

There are example of a phoney left being used to disrupt and disintegrate groups by Dutch and American security forces [i] that saw disruption of a small number of activists, far from the scope of the Western “tension” strategists, and there is nothing novel to suggest that the state infiltrated agents to spy on radical and progressive campaigns but seriously to develop a left, especially Maoist, in opposition to pro-Soviet communism.

It is easy to stray from a focus on the limited extent the Far Right did actually infiltrate Left wing, specifically maoist groups in the 1960s and 1970s into the intoxicating intrigues and manoeuvres that occurred during the covert Cold war period. The extent of material available on the internet is phenomenal as the dimpliest search would demonstrate . Most conspiracy theories (apart from David Ickes and his Alien Reptilian Legacy) tend to be a mixture of facts and imagination. Historical facts provide some scaffolding for other speculations, sometimes plausible with amusing leaps of speculation raising a large number of interesting possibilities, and chiselled details which supports the unfolding narrative included. The narrative such work creates offers the untold account through assertion, assumption and alternatives of evidently undiscovered connections underpinned by deductive reconstruction.

 Like a series of interlocking wheels constructing an intricate mechanism that when critically engaged there are sharply differing assessments by readers. Believability in the story-teller can create the spell of confidence and conviction that purports to provide a sensational account of history, however carefully crafted, but goes against every known piece of public information and revelations from the archives, but still finds ideological partisan support for the conspiracy paradigm.

False flag operations now familiar tools of counter-insurgency strategy, undertaken by the state and its NGO allies, succeeded to discredit, disrupt and destroy progressive and radicals’ movements. Even the accusations raised can have a disproportionate effect as with the characterisation of nazi-maoist stream, in Italy the neo-fascist terrorism associated with Franco Freda. One of the representatives of the sematic oxymoron nazi-maoism was Enzo Maria Dantini, one of the many neo-fascists who were “recruited” in the Gladio network, whose motivation was neither based on materialist doctrines nor to serve the people. 

Not so much as infiltration as contamination was the strategy behind the so-called “nazi-maoist” Franco Freda and Giovanni Ventura, responsible for the bomb attacks at the Milan Trade fair and railway station in April 1969 and Plaza Fontana, Milan on December 12 1969, with blame deflected onto anarchist circles by the far right. Over 150 Italian anarchists were brought in for questioning by Inspector Luigi Calabresi, acting head of the Milan political police squad. One of these anarchists, Giuseppe Pinelli, was thrown from Calabresi’s fourth floor office window to his death in the yard below, or perhaps he was dead prior to the fall.

The fascist movement Avanguardia Nazionale, the organization of the terrorists Stefano delle Chiaie and Mario Merlino, was used for this. Avanguardia neo-fascists “disguised” themselves as “Maoists” promoting the use of Maoist propaganda with posters throughout Italy.  They were never accepted as part of the vibrant Maoist movement in Italy or able to infiltrate and direct the politics of the Maoists regardless of the language they tried to use. There was never a dialogue with the left.

The campaign occurred in 1972 the far right AN “were given the task of putting up maoist posters. This was, in effect, an attempt to create an ‘ultra-left’ even more extreme that the [PCI] communist party” drawing militant support away from them. [ii]

This strategy was seen in operation in Italy where in 1968 a young Italian fascist, Mario Merlino , member of the Avanguardia Nationale (AN)  made attempts to approach Maoist groups boasting of having contacts with the Swiss journal, L’Etincelle. After rebutted after approaching Avanguardia Proletaria, Merlino tried Linea Rossa where he was unknown but exposed when his name appeared in the press in connection with a fascist attack on the PCI headquarters in Rome. He re-emerged in May 1969 when Merlino approached a militant of the Unione del Communisti Italiani (which he tried to join) to hold some material for him. It was fuse wire and detonators. This was shortly after the Palace of Justice had been bombed. A police raid on the militants’ home two days later found nothing, he had previously disposed of the material and Merlino was finished trying to use Italian Maoists.

When the Italy-China Friendship Society was established in Ferrara in 1972 as a vehicle to infiltrate the ML environment, the official Italy-China Society denounced its activities as provocateurs. The exposure and rejection of such approaches from known Far Right activists was the common response from the pro-China groups. Other identified right-wing infiltrators include Domenico Poili (of Ordine Nuovo) and Alfredo Sestili (of AN) who joined the PCI/ML and created confusion before being identified as provocateur. Claudio Mutti, an Italian protégé of Thiriat and associate of the terrorist Stefano delle Chiaie, adopted the name Lotta di Popolo for his involvement with the Italian-Libyan Friendship Society and a pro-Chinese student group.

Relationships of Thieuart

While some on the right advocated working in left groups, the idea that an ideological alliance between such groups never had any traction in the Marxist-Leninist movement. Research into far right conspiracies has unveiled real actual attempts to manipulated and divert groups in Italy but when the likes of Freda, and the Belgian Jean-Francois Thiriart loom large in the narrative of right wing infiltration, they are not surprisingly on the margins of post 1945  mainstream European fascism, and of zero influence on the Left. Immersion in the intricacies of that covert political world and a critique of its methodology and with a critical appreciation of its findings narrows the perspective. The right’s flirting in a one-sided courtship of the Left is taken at face value rather than treated as the attempted intoxication and manipulation it tactically represents for the far right activists.

Among those recycled as evidence is the activity of Jeune Europe a far-right organization on the margin of the fringe Right, it was never engaged with left-wing parties of any political allegiance. It was a failed enterprise. The claim it “sought a rapprochement with Maoist China in order to oust the Americans from Europe” says nothing about Chinese intentions and actions with regard to the group.[iii] Thiriart attempted in vain to obtain Chinese support for Jeune Europe reflects more upon his geo-political ideas, expressed in Empire de 400 million, than a cultivation by the Chinese. Paeans to communist China appeared with increasing frequency in the pages of JE’s publications. See, for example, die 15 October 1964 issue of Jeune Europe: Organisation Europeenne pour la Formation d’un Cadre Politique—the internal bulletin of JE which was sent exclusively to the organization’s militants—which attacked the idea of an “Atlantic Europe” and argued that Europe had to support Chinese imperialism against Russian and American imperialism. In the 27 October 1964 issue of the same bulletin, he went so far as to praise the development of an atomic bomb by China, presumably as a counterweight to the nuclear monopoly of the United States and the Soviet Union.

Pan Europeanism on the far right had been promoted post-war by marginal failures, the likes of the wash-up British fascist, Oswald Mosley and by Jean Thiriart in Belgium. In October 1965, Thiriart dissolved JE and incorporated the rest of his loyal followers into a new organization, the Parti Communautaire Europeen (PCE). Its’ cocktail of conflicting ideological positions and appearance reflected an eclectic and self-declared “national communism” on the artificial construct of racist-based European identity.

Thiriart had planned strategy on a globe: his 1964 blueprint, Europe – An Empire of 400 Million Men’ saw China as a tactical ally as a means of unsettling the Soviet Union. He Argues that neo-Nazis had a “China Option”, the fantasy sketched out by Thiriat is of Chinese financial assistance so that he could organise anti-American attacks in Europe, with China providing finance and sanctuary for his “guerrilla bands”.  However after setting up this straw man argument, adopted the slogan “Neither Moscow nor Washington” calling for a united European homeland: “The Fourth Reich will be Europe, the Reich of the people from Brest to Bucharest”.

Thiriart had said to develop a relationship with Ceausescu’s Romania, being an admirer of its “national communism”.

His attempted cooperation was at a ‘strategic level’ rather than an approach to the domestic anti-Soviet left. Such musings would have been lost and forgotten if were not for a story repeated by commentators on the extreme right.

MEETING CHOU EN-LAI IN BURCHAREST?

“In its initial phase,” Thiriart recounted, “my conversation with Chou En Lai was but an exchange of anecdotes and memories. At this stage all went well. Chou En-Lai was interested in my studies in Chinese writing and I in his stay in France, which represented for him an enjoyable time of his youth. The conversation then moved to popular armies — a subject that interested both of us. Things started to go downhill when we got to concrete issues. I had to sit through a true Marxist-Leninist catechism class. Chou followed with an inventory of the serious psychological errors committed by the Soviet Union.”

Thiriart tried to persuade Chou En-lai that Europe could be an important partner in a united struggle waged by all the world’s anti-American forces, but he made little headway. He then asked the Chinese foreign minister for financial assistance so that he could establish a revolutionary army to carry out anti-American attacks in Europe. An elite military apparatus of this sort also needed a base outside Europe, and Thiriart hoped that China would provide sanctuary for his guerrilla brigades. A sceptical Chou referred Thiriart to contacts in the Chinese secret service, but these never bore fruit.[iv]

The Russian author Anton Shekhovtsov, in Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir, retells the tale of Thiriart that “despite the rupture with the Chinese” – but his previous sentence says “the collaboration with the Chinese apparently never materialised”, so what was the rupture , a non-existent relationship ? But ignore this contradiction because –  the author asserts , “the PCE and European branches of Jeune Europe collaborated with the Maoists at the end of the 1960s.”  [v]

“Thiriart acted as a liaison between the Chinese Embassy, the Parti communiste Suisse/marxiste-leniniste (Swiss Communist Party/ Marxist-Leninist (PSC/ML)) and the Portugal-based Aginter Press.”

However Bulliard’s organisation was the PSC, its newspaper L’Etincelle; he continued publishing it, from September 9, 1967, under the imprint of Parti Populaire Suisse – PPS. It was not until 1972 that the organisation associated with Nils Andersson, the Organization of Communists of Switzerland, adopted the title Parti Communiste Suisse/Marxistes-Léninistes. (Something is a wry)

Returning to the subject of alleged Chinese assignation with the outer fringes of European neo-fascism, Bale asserts that,

 “In 1966, after making contact with the Beijing government through the intermediary of the Rumanian Departmentul de Informatii Externe (DIE: External Intelligence Department), Thiriart traveled to Bucharest to meet with Zhou Enlai. Shortly thereafter, he allegedly began exchanging information about the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHARPE), and NATO installations in Belgium with Yang Xiaonong, chief of the Parisian bureau of the Xinhua news agency, and Wang Yujiang in Brussels, both of whom were operatives of the Chinese secret service”

Note the use of the adjective: “he allegedly”.  [vi]  In 1962, Yang Xiaonong had became the official Xinhua correspondent in Geneva, causing him to often travel between Paris, Geneva, and Bern, thereby identified as the conduit between the missions in Switzerland and the Embassy in Paris after diplomatic relations between France and China were established in 1964.

Shekhovtsov’s account[vii]  has Thiriart breaking off the collaboration.

The story gets repeated[viii] but no researcher on the Far Right has evidence that tangible cooperation was established; what they have is a story that originates with Thiriat himself,  quoted in De Jeune Europe aux Brigades rouges: anti-americanisme et logique de l’engagement revolutionnaire (Nantes: Ars, 1986 and other editions).

How reliable a creditable witness is he in the absence of collaborating evidence or verifiable details? We know Chou Enlai was on a state visit to Bucharest in 1966 but the rest is speculation and supposition.

In late 1968 the PCE was officially dissolved, after which Thiriart seems to have withdrawn from politics altogether for a number of years, resurfacing with another “ideological transformation” (?) in the 1980s praising the Soviet Union right up to his death in late 1992.

To present the existence of some kind of Thirirat “maoist” movement is gross disinformation and deception. While Thiriart would say  Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were heroes neither Castro nor Che themselves should be blamed : The Left bears no responsibility for the misinterpretations and presentations from the political right as with Franco Freda and other neo-fascist activists in Italy during the late 1960s and the early 1970s of their politics whereas the so-called “nazi-maoists”—assuming that they were not mere provocateurs attempting to disrupt and discredit genuine Maoists with slogans such as “Hitler and Mao united in the struggle”— appropriated symbols and slogans from the radical left, appreciated Mao for what they called his advocacy of an alleged “ascetic warrior mystique”.

There is neither the scope nor focus to delve into the interminable doctrinal disputes amongst, what passes for, fascist intellectuals, advocating an operational alliance. In reality the right-wing activists FAILED to exert any significant influence on the ideas or behaviour of left-wing revolutionaries.[ix]


[i] eg BVD ran the phony Marxist-Leninist Party of the Netherlands, its own newspaper, De Kommunist, written and edited by the secret service. To add authenticity, the party let a handful of other true believers join its otherwise non-existent ranks, telling them that they were part of a network of underground cells. Chinese diplomats in Holland invited the man they knew as Chris Petersen to their mission in The Hague and gave money to help finance a Maoist newspaper secretly edited by the BVD. He was invited for visits to Beijing.

There are US examples: the Ad-Hoc Committee for a Marxist-Leninist Party, the work in Heavy Radicals: The FBI’s Secret War on America’s Maoists (Zero Books, 2015), and A Threat of the First Magnitude—FBI Counterintelligence & Infiltration: From the Communist Party to the Revolutionary Union—1962-1974 (Repeater Books, UK, January 2018). And in Britain, Donal O’Driscoll of the Undercover Research Group writes of the Police Infiltrated of the anti-revisionist Irish National Liberation Solidarity Front (INLSF).

[ii] BBC2 TV three-part TimeWatch documentary on Operation Gladio , part of a post-World War II “Stay Behind” program set up by the CIA and NATO.

[iii] If , or when, access to the relevant Chinese archives are available that judgement could be subject to modification, but in practice there is very little evidence of such intentions (or capabilities) at the time.

[iv] Shekhovtsov (2018) Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. Abingdon:  Routledge p28

[v]  Ibid Shekhovtsov (2018)

[vi] Bale J.M. (2017) The Darkest Sides of Politics, I : Postwar Fascism, Covert Operations and Terrorism. London: Routledge.

[vii] Sourced to Patrice Chairoff, Dossier néo-nazisme (Paris: Ramsay, 1977), p. 445. (Unseen)

[viii] i.e. Anton Shekhovtsov (2018) Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. Abingdon:  Routledge and Martin Lee (1997) The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists. London: Little, Brown and Company pp.168- 175.

 In his retelling of the tale, The Beast Reawakens, investigative journalist Martin A. Lee also sources “Right-wing view on foreign affairs,” Patterns of Prejudice, May-June 1967 and C. C. Aronsfeld, “Right-wing flirtation with a Chinese alliance,” Patterns of Prejudice, July-August 1969; “Right-wing over the East,” Patterns of Prejudice. September-October 1968. (Unseen)

[ix] The very opposite consequences occurred with the political defection to the left casually the impression of a web of influence and causality in the connections is created. So referring to Claudio Mutti, a leading figure in Giovane Europa, the Italian branch of the Jeune Europe, as a member of the ‘nazi-maoist’ Organizzazione Lotta di Popolo (Organisation of People’s Struggle) established in 1969 by Serafina Di Luia, a member of the Avanguardia Nazionale connected to the Aginter Press and influenced by Thiriart’s ideas, tries to build an alliance of collaboration in the mind of the reader.

Whereas the consequences was that for some individuals there may have been transformation in their thinking; this in 1971 a founding member of Giovane Europa, Claudio Orsoni would create the Centre for the Study and Application of Maoist Thought. Was that part of the deception? Fascist journalist, Pino Bolzano went onto lead the daily paper of the extreme Left group Lotta Continua. Former associate of Thiriart would join the Marxist-Leninist Italian Communist Party before going on to found the Red Brigades radical leftist organization which was active in the 70s and 80s in Italy. The forementioned Claudio Mutti would form the Italian-Libyan Friendship Organization after Muammar Gaddafi took power in Libya, and later meet Russian demagogue Aleksandr Dugin in the1990s before arranging for Thiriart to visit Russia.


Main Readings

Main sources drawn upon the French-language work of Laurent Frederick (1978) L ‘ Orchestre Noir Paris: Stock. Work based primarily on documents discovered at PIDE and AP headquarters by leftist officers of the MFA Movimento des Forcas Armadas and the Aginter-Press archives then held in Caxias prison.

Bale J.M. (1994) The “Black” Terrorist International: Neo-Fascist Paramilitary Networks and the “Strategy of Tension” in Italy, 1968-1974. Thesis University of California at Berkeley

Bale J.M. (1989) Right-wing terrorists and the Extraparliamentary Left in post-world war Two Europe: Collusion or manipulation. Lobster #18 October 1982:2-18

Christie, Stuart (1984) Stefano Dell Chiale: portrait of a black terrorist. Refract Publication

Ganser, Daniele (2004) NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe. London: Routledge

Lovell, Julia (2019) Maoism: A Global History. London: Bodley Head

Lee, Martin (1997) The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists. London: Little, Brown and Company

Richards, Sam (n.d.) Against Lies, Provocations & Infiltration. Unpublished MS

Shekhovtsov, Anton (2018) Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. London: Routledge

Special Carabinieri Operational Grouping – Eversion Department

Criminal proceedings against Rognoni Giancarlo and others . Annotation on psychological and unorthodox warfare activities,(psychological and low density warfare ) carried out in Italy between 1969 and 1974 through the “AGINTER PRESSE” . Rome: July 23, 1996.

[Original : RAGGRUPPAMENTO OPERATIVO SPECIALE CARABINIERI – Reparto Eversione –

Procedimento penale nei confronti di ROGNONI Giancarlo ed altri.

Procedimento penale sulla Strage di Piazza della Loggia – Nuovo Rito.

Annotazione sulle attività di guerra psicologica e non ortodossa, (psychological and low density warfare) compiute in Italia tra il 1969 e il 1974 attraverso l’ “AGINTER PRESSE”.


As reported by the American alternative news service,  LIBERATION News Service (#677) February 12, 1975

The Formation of Aginter Press

But the Portuguese documents tell a different story. According to them, Aginter was formed in 1962 largely by former members of the German Gestapo and the French Secret Army Organization (OAS). With strong links to PIDE, Aginter quickly offered its agents courses in sabotage, espionage and terrorism. These “skills” were learned primarily from their experience in the OAS during the war for Algerian independence in the late fifties and early sixties.

After 1965, with the help of PIDE funding, the agency began a coordinated effort to infiltrate European left and extreme left movements.

At the time, their activities were concentrated in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany.

According to the archives in Lisbon, Aginter also developed into a recruitment and training program for rightist terrorists and mercenaries operating throughout the world. The documents say Aginter provided lessons in sabotage and counterinsurgency programs, as well as a manual of instructions on how to resist interrogation.

Aginter was involved, as well, in counterrevolutionary activities in the 1960s in many African countries such as Guinea-Bissau, the Congo (now independent Zaire), Gabon, Senegal and Angola.

The documents also link the former press agency to a network of European neo-Nazi organizations currently active throughout Europe such as Europe Action, the Black Order (an Italian organization with suspected involvement in a recent conspiracy for an ultra-rightist takeover of the Italian government), and the New European Order.

And the archives are said to name several high ranking political figures in France and Germany as involved in these organizations.

In the most recent development, dozens of rightists met in Lyons, France, December 27, 28 and 29, 1974, at a quiet congress of the “New European Order.” They represented fascist organizations in France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Latin America. The meeting also included Czechoslovakian and Yugoslavian exiles, according to the New York Times report.

Among the participants was Yves Guillou, former director of Aginter Press.

“New European Order” was founded in 1951 by former Nazis who escaped execution at the end of World War II. Its founders still head the organization. They are Gaston Amaudruz, former Gestapo agent now living in Lausanne, Switzerland, a Swedish Nazi named Per Engdahl, and Maurice Bardeche from France.

A declaration issued after the congress demanded the immediate release of Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess, still in jail in West Germany. The Order says Hess has been “imprisoned for more than thirty years for having wanted to re-establish peace, along with numerous comrades who fought for Europe.”

Among others mentioned by the Order’s declaration was Jacques Vasseur who, according to Le Monde, was well known to the French resistance as a collaborator with the Gestapo in France.

Following the conference came a report from Italian magistrates revealing a heavy arms traffic from Marseille to Africa, controlled by “MGM,” an Italy-based import-export agency, controlled by European fascists.

Formed in the early ’70s, its alleged purpose is “the acquistion and sale of all commercial products,” but the organization, it has been revealed, is mainly involved in buying heavy military equipment including tanks, bomber planes, missiles and submachine guns. The Italian investigation has linked several Italian participants at the fascist congress in Lyons with MGM.

MGM apparently buys arms from French, Swiss and Belgian manufacturers, through two middlemen, Gilbert Lapeyrie, a former Gestapo agent, and Cesar Dauwe. The arms, then, have been primarily sold in Africa. Dauwe was arrested and temporarily freed when his involvement with an arms shipment bound for Ghana was discovered.

“What is particularly disturbing in this affair,” wrote the French paper, Liberation, recently, “is that fascists can control a flow of arms of such importance and particularly to Africa. You can count those who are capable of selling these kinds of weapons on the fingers of one hand. And when you understand the French and American interests in this area, it’s clear that this traffic couldn’t take place without their knowledge.”


Just read……thoughts of Dr. Li

Reading a memoir such as this is revealing about what matters to the author as these thoughts of Li recalls his time when the served as personal physician to the Chinese leader, Mao Zedong.

Li claimed that as he served as Mao’s personal physician for the last 22 years of the chairman’s life, that during this time he became a close confidant, although there is a dispute about when he was his personal physician and what kind of access that gave him. His book The Private Life Of Chairman Mao was published in 1994, almost twenty years after Mao died. Its reception into the arsenal of ideological denegation of the Chinese revolutionary experience, typified by the headline impression from the New York Times review, ‘The Tyrant Mao, as Told by His Doctor”, was  characteristic of the tone and stance of the majority of press reviews given to the book.

The book was controversial, in part because of just how salacious it is. Dr Li describes an opulent elite lifestyle, diverse details of Mao’s personality, sexual proclivities, party politics and personal habits were included in an account, which according to him, Mao’s private life saw him spend his time  conspiring, reading and being sexually promiscuous .

Based on his recollection of journals he had kept, then he had burned during the Cultural Revolution, and a decade later Li began in 1977 to write intermittingly, reconstructed his notes from memory, producing more than 20 volumes of notes.  These new notebooks help him write his memoir. Dr Li, who lived in the USA from 1988, had his manuscript made into a book for Random House. Along with the Random House publication, a Chinese language edition was released by the Chinese Times Publishing Company of Taipei.

Hong Yung Lee ‘s critical reading of  Dr Li’s book expressed some of the concerns that comes with any critical reading of an account that claims to be privy to Mao at his most unguarded moments. [i]

Li Zhisui claimed he still remembers verbatim conversations with Mao almost 20 years later “(b)ecause Mao’s language was so colorful and vivid and deeply etched in my brain” and, “My survival and that of my family had always depended on Mao’s words; I could not forget them.” [ii]

Hong joins others doubtful of such recollection perfectly-recreated dialogue particularly as he relied on his seventy-something year-old memory for events that happened 20-30 years previously. It just defies belief: what conversations were you having in 1999?

“Li’s source materials, his diaries, were burned in 1966, yet he asks the reader to accept verbatim dialogues as well as minutely observed details of events he could not have personally witnessed.”  Hong Yung Lee advises, “Nor can Li qualify as an unbiased observer when it is obvious that he allowed few standards, political or ethical, to interfere with his role as Mao’s physician, confidante, and servant.”

The New York Times reviewer Richard Bernstein judged it presented few new revelations about the political or diplomatic history of Maoist China and observed there may never be absolute corroboration of the book’s intimate, candid account and its many anecdotes.

Evidently China specialists like Professor Andrew J. Nathan (author of the controversial  The Tiananmen Papers, and other works) and Anne Thurston, who is a very well-known China academic, had no issue with relying on Dr Li’s book obviously believes that the sources are good and questioned validity misplaced enquiries. Still reliance, particularly when it comes to quoting Mao, is problematic as suggested in a generally positive review when the American Foreign Affairs Magazine[iii], it cautions against using the personal details of the book to draw general lessons on the nation and revolution.

The readability of the story is said to owe much to the editing process overseen by Dr Thurston, yet this story-telling with unsourced quotes and a style and tone that seemed clouded and determined by a growing dislike of the subject in the book’s repetitive emphasis on Mao’s personal habits .The general tenor of an unflattering picture of the Chinese leader, as well as the infighting and internal politics of the CCP, are seen as strengthens in other reviews. Whereas critical engagement may see a diminishing compelling reading as the narrative progresses.

Although according to the Christian Science Monitor contributor and there is no hidden agenda here,

“As Mao Zedong’s personal physician, Dr. Li Zhisui had a uniquely privileged view of the chairman and his often cruel and barbarous government. Dr. Zhisui exposes Mao’s personal flaws and oddities, as well as the true dynamics of his Communist party, which was often divided.”

This reader’s impression is that one learns more about the author than the subject. Individual dairies are the recorded subjective perceptions that provide an angle on events that tells us more about the author then really alters the record of history. Memoirs can be useful in conjunction with other culminated evidence but that requires a far more rigorous approach than employed in the production of Li’s account. He had set out to “rewrite his life story” when he embarked upon and favourable western reviewers thought his book represents a reasonable effort to record his experiences. Given the nature of the book is memoir rather than history, it should be addressed as partial and contested. Clearly that required objectivity to allow some reliability in the account is lacking.

How trustworthy is the colour and details he provides when much of the commentary is not with Mao’s “private life” at all, but rather deals with the situation in China as a whole and its effect on Dr. Li. In offering a portray of life in the elite atmosphere of Group One and Mao’s household, Li ‘s insider view is partial and tempered by his actual role.

Dr Li needed to be reminded of the Hippocratic Oath. His ‘‘back office’ account filled with far from exemplary examples of his own behaviour.  The oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. In writing his book, he failed to apply the injunction that “I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know.”

 Li made for a poor communist. His own account conforms to the evidence of policy differences evolving into two-line struggle within the Party and his responses reliably marks him out as ‘a capitalist roader’ that Mao had warned against, seeing socialism as a means to a limited end: making China rich and powerful (p377). Nor was Li an honest communist, by his own account disillusioned from 1960 onwards, he poses as a confidant of Mao, and amid the political struggles Li’s guiding light seems to have been: “I had to survive, and self-interest required me to remain silent.” (p405) [iv]

With excuse, excuse, justification, excuse, rationalization and half-hearted self-criticism. The overwhelming takeaway is a sense of Dr. Li’s timidity and conventionality:

“”I never said anything roughly or straightforwardly,” Dr. Li continued. ”In other words, if you worked for Mao, you had to disobey your own conscience. You can never say anything as you think it. You have, first of all, to think what Mao will say.”

More than once, the author states,

I had tried to escape from Mao’s circle so many times, and always Mao had pulled me back. Now I was trapped, with no hope of leaving. 

However the reality was that staff turn-over over the twenty two years of his service saw others go on to other prestigious posts elsewhere. The reader realises that “so many” escape attempts were really just him asking a superior to transfer him to another post.

His account contains a portrayal of intimacy and engagement that attempts to build the story of someone who, as they say, was inside the room. The narrative of events in Chinese politics offered in the book by and large confirms what has already been known. The author tells his story as if he was an “eyewitness” to many important political events as his personal memories are interwoven with public knowledge.

Frederick Teiwes, an American academic wrote that despite Li’s extensive claims regarding the politics behind the Cultural Revolution, he was actually “on the fringe” of the events taking place in the Chinese government. He went on to criticise the book as being overtly and polemically “anti-Mao”, being “uncritical” in its outlook and being “dependent on the official sources” to create a picture of the revolution. He characterised Li’s book as offering nothing new but “recycling widely available information and interpretations”. [v]

His court history with rival secretaries and officials vying for influence is reminiscent of Robert Graves’ I, Claudius & Claudius the God, an entertainment using a historical backstory. The unfortunate back-cover endorsements are of Li as “Mao’s Boswell”[vi] from The Irish Times, and “as the Tacitus of Modern China”[vii] in the judgement of the eminent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, aka Lord Dacre, who initially authenticated the faked volumes of The Hitler Dairies for the Sunday Times.[viii]

There is no scholarly foundation or structure for Li’s account. He writes without acknowledgement to source when apparently using official published documents in his account. Dr. Li’s credibility is damaged by the way he narrates certain events, when he is relaying second hand conversation where he was not present. Unsourced use of innumerable quotations, some of which are from Chinese official documents means the distinction is blurred between his own experiences and what became known later or modified in the editorial process, but serves to enhance his political acumen. The notes provided by China scholar, Anne F. Thurston, supplement, rather than substantiate assertions made in the text. There is no bibliography of material that may have been consulted in the reconstruction of the memoirs of the physician.

The narrative provides Li’s political analysis with accompanying insight to personal motivation and Olympian character judgements on those around him. Schizophrenia crops up as a diagnosis for people he does not like among the many rocky relationships he reports upon. Yet how reliable  can Li’s personal assessments of how Mao handled the personalities and disputes of the party members that surrounded him and Li relationships with those he easily describes as the hypochondriac Jiang Qing,  and the physically (and possibly mentally) unstable Lin Biao?

If Mao repeatedly tells you to read an article and pay attention to important national issues it is hardly an endorsement of your political acumen and far from being an endorsement of being a trusted confident, especially when Li states more than once that, “Mao never really trusted me again.” After Mao discovered he was being secretly recorded in his household, and was hence wary of the loyalty of his personal staff according to Li. However that staff were not replaced enmasse. Would Mao really repeatedly ask his doctor to take on the responsibilities of political secretary? I don’t know, but why would he trust Li’s political nonce? There are incidents recalled by Li that suggests his own unwitting agency in China’s national politics such as the recommendation of a Peking Opera to Mao that inadvertently sparks the involvement of Jiang Qing in cultural politics (p402). The narrative is peppered with such self-aggrandisements

A view from his literary collaborator is that, 

“Dr Li was not an easy subject. In my experience, older Chinese men rarely are. Their sense of status gets in the way, and the quality of self-reflection somehow shuts off. He was not a storyteller. He was discursive, rambling, self-pitying, often refusing, whether deliberately or stubbornly, to understand the thrust of my questions. He was not greatly concerned with accuracy, insisting that this was his book, based on his memories. Leave it to the historians to correct, he said. He was contemptuous of American China scholars, whom he claimed never to have read. They do not understand China, he said. Nor, he alleged, did most Chinese. The monopoly on truth was Li’s. “ (Thurston) Hong Yung Lee observed, ”His accounts are conspicuous for their absence of meaningful self-criticism. Sure he occasionally says he should have done something differently, but he doesn’t ever seem sincere.  “

Li Zhisui’s memoirs are an act of revenge. He despises the others in Mao’s personal staff, code named Group One, ‘uneducated peasants’ who had served Mao so well, and he is determined to expose their guilt. Yet Li served Mao no less well and was often guilty of the same offences of which he accused them, the gifts, the specially arranged shopping sprees in the midst of a nationwide depression, the elaborate banquets in the midst of famine commented Dr.Thurston. While attributing motive and positions to people, there is no discussion of the clash of ideals, the policy differences and the disagreements over national priorities that are often assumed to have shaped the contours of Chinese politics. Instead there is the lazy meme of the Imperial Court, Mao reduced to the figure of emperor surrounded by nothing more than selfish personal ambitions and lust for political power. Li’s place of boundless decadence, licentiousness, selfishness, relentless toadying and cutthroat political intrigue is familiar in classical and imperial literature. Subsumed in that general picture are the good deeds done without fanfare, that other accounts may highlight: aspects of Mao’s private life that includes use of his own wealth to build a swimming pool, financial gifts to other people’, refusal of family privileges,  a sceptical reception of official reports, embarking upon study and fact-finding tours, all these pepper the text.

Others who worked with Mao and numerous academics have contradicted these mostly negative depictions of Mao. Many consider Mao was a more complicated persona and the book as lacking context, picking and choosing quotes, disregarding contrary evidence, and being otherwise incessantly biased towards depicting Mao in a bad light.

Mao-and-Zhang-Yufeng

Those who for the most part wanted to believe the worst about Mao’s private life, may uncritically accept this depiction of Mao although numerous people who also worked in proximity to Mao have written challenging Li’s story stating that the book was anything from an exaggeration to simply being false, rebuttals in which they believe that much of it was fabricated by Li himself and by his English language translators.

The original manuscript was written by Li, translated from his native Chinese into English by Professor Tai Hung-chao, and then edited by China scholar Dr Anne F. Thurston. She was well suited [ix]to the collaboration and wrote of her engagement with the project focusing, not uncritically, on Li as “a retainer in Mao’s court”. [x]

The disputes and criticism of the publication process, the alterations to the Chinese version of the book, are covered by Q.M. DeBorja and Xu L. Dong rebuttal to Random House’s 1994 biography of Chairman Mao. On the matter of translating, one instance, in the English edition, Li is recorded as saying “During our talk in Chengdu…” whereas in the Chinese edition, the literal translation is “Mao stated in his speech at the Chengdu meeting…” obviously these statements actually have different meanings.

Publication of his account provoked indignation in Chinese language responses that did not circulate as widely in the English speaking world. It did not produce the academic attention of the 2005 biography Mao: The Unknown Story written by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday [xi]. There was Manufacturing History – Sex, Lies and Random House’s Memoirs of Mao’s Physician by Q.M. DeBorja and Xu L. Dong [xii]. This shreds Li’s account, challenged on many of the allusions and details he produces. It raises criticism of the discrepancies between the different languages editions produced (with some episodes excluded from the Chinese language edition published in Taiwan excused on the grounds of cultural and political sensitivities).

Also challenging Li’s account, a Chinese language book published in Hong Kong, Lishi de Zhenshi: Mao Zedong Shenbian Gongzuo Renyuan de Zhengyan (The Truth of History: Testimony of the personnel who had worked with Mao Zedong), were people who had known Mao personally: his personal secretary Lin Ke, his personal doctor from 1953 to 1957, Xu Tao and his chief nurse from 1953 to 1974, Wu Xujun. As set out in detail on Wikepedia, they argued that Li did not only not know Mao very well, but that he presented an inaccurate picture of him in his book. Several people have questioned the authenticity of the book. A statement protesting that many of the claims made in Li’s book were false was issued soon after its publication, signed by 150 people who had personally known or worked with Mao. They were not as easily believed as Dr. Li.

Overall, repetitive in salacious detail, it becomes something of a slog to finish Li’s tale. Now read once, returned to the bookshelves to remain untouched.


[i] The Los Angeles Times (February 19, 1995

[ii] The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Arrow Books 1986 p.xvii

[iii] Published By: Council on Foreign Relations. Vol. 73, No. 6 (Nov. – Dec., 1994), pp. 150-154

[iv] Even his literary collaborator Anne F. Thurston entitled an article on the subject “The Politics of Survival: Li Zhisui and the Inner Court “. The China Journal, No. 35 (Jan., 1996), pp. 97-105

[v] The Tragedy of Lin Biao: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution 1966-1971 (1996) 179-180 cited on Wikepedia.

[vi] Referencing  James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson

[vii] Referencing the classical study Histories by the barrister-historian Tacitus, writing some thirty years after the events he describes.

[viii] He had second thoughts before publication, the concerns of eminent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, aka Lord Dacre, about the diaries’ authenticity were over-ridden by newspaper owner Rupert Murdoch with the immortal words: “Fuck Dacre. Publish”. Trevor-Roper did not keep quiet about his doubts. “I regret that the normal method of historical verification has been sacrificed to the perhaps necessary requirements of a journalistic scoop,” he said. When the forgery was exposed, proprietor Rupert Murdoch is supposed to have shrugged, “We’re in the entertainment business”.  The Sunday Times retained 20,000 of the 60,000 new readers it acquired when it published its “scoop”.

See https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/diary-of-the-hitler-diary-hoax

[ix] Focused on political reform in China, Dr Thurston was the author of “a study of the Cultural Revolution based on interviews with people who had been its victims. The book that resulted—Enemies of the People: The Ordeal of China’s Intellectuals during the Great Cultural Revolution—is still my favorite.”

Other works include

  • A Chinese Odyssey: The Life and Times of a Chinese Dissident (1991)
  • Don’t Force Us to Lie: The Struggle of Chinese Journalists in the Reform Era
  • China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC
  • Enemies of the People: The Ordeal of the Intellectuals in China’s Great Cultural Revolution, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987
  • with Gyalo Thondup, The Noodle Maker of Kalimpong: The Untold Story of My Struggle for Tibet (2015)

I often describe myself as the China counterpart to the narrator in Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Philosopher’s Pupil, who says “my role in life is listening to people’s stories.” My role in life is to listen to Chinese people tell their stories—and then to relate those stories here in the West in a way that makes sense to both us and the storytellers themselves.

  • From her 2005 CV while Associate Professor on the China Studies Program, The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

[x] The Politics of Survival: Li Zhisui and the Inner Court, The China Journal Volume 35 Jan.1996

[xi]  Was Mao Really a Monster: The Academic Response to Chang and Halliday’s “Mao: The Unknown Story” (London: Routledge 2010) 

[xii] Published by China Study group in New York in 1996 and available  from https://archive.org/details/manufacturing-history-xulin-dong

Ian Greig (1924-1995)

Died aged 70 at Chichester, West Sussex on October 12, 1995.

Long gone, Gerald Ian Greig has faded in the consciousness of many but he played his part in maintaining an obsessive rabid anti-communism that poisoned political life in Britain. A sympathetic obituary noted, “Greig was identified by those unsympathetic to his views as a fully paid up member of the ”reds under the bed” school of thought.”  His professional life ending as Deputy Director of the Foreign Affairs Research Institute, a right-wing “think tank” policy group that focused on the communist threat, and his written output would only substantiate that characterisation.

Born in West London, October 26, 1924, he travelled the route of public school, army, and political journalism familiar in many upper middle class life stories. [i]

In 1942, upon leaving the incubator of Chandos House at Stowe independent school in Buckingham, Greig was commissioned at the age of 18 in a cavalry regiment seeing service in Holland after the D-Day landings. He remained in the Army after the war and time spent in Palestine was said to have stimulated “his lifelong fascination with terrorism and its methods.”

 After a spell as a Conservative constituency, he went into journalism. His informal political contacts were on the right of Britain’s political right. Much of his written output under the name ‘Ian Greig’ had sources  drawn from a reading of public documents and statements published by communists, what is described as “official reports of western Governments” (including the briefing reports of the  small circulation newsletters) and “the statements of defectors who actually took part in the events described”.

In 1961 he was a founding organiser of the Monday Club, a hard right pressure group, separate organisational from the Conservative Party but populated with its members, and others from the Far Right. The thirty-six year old Greig served as Membership Secretary until 1969.

The Monday Club was a reaction (and reactionary), dubious about the rapid decolonisation of Africa foreshadowed in Macmillan’s ”wind of change” speech to the South African Parliament, which illiberal Tories saw as the last straw. The club stated that Macmillan had “turned the Party Left” and attracted Conservatives who looked for leadership to the Marquis of Salisbury.

 They were in that racist colonialist way disparaging about the former colonies’ ability to rule themselves satisfactorily and worried about the opportunities this offered the communists to further their strategic aims.  Ian Greig’s Monday club opposed what it described as the “premature” independence of Kenya, and the breakup of the Central African Federation, which was the subject of its first major public meeting in September 1961. It was fundamentally opposed to decolonisation, and defended white minority rule in South Africa and Rhodesia. Or as the obit in the Glasgow Herald politely put it: The group published papers on South Africa and Rhodesia and remained well disposed to the Smith regime after it declared UDI in 1965.

The soft-pedalling of Greig’s opinions continued with a reference that:

Certainly he shared the views of those like retired General Sir Frank Kitson that more should be done to prepare the armed forces to cope with terrorism.

In fact Ian Greig was a former Senior Executive of the Institute for the Study of Conflict,[ii]  a right-wing propaganda group established by Brian Crozier in 1970. It ran until 1989 and produced a series of reports on terrorism, guerrilla war, union activism and other topics. Institute offered professional and authoritative-sounding analyses, both for the general public and for more specialised audiences of academics, policy makers, police officials, and military commanders. It provided respectability to right-wing and repressive policies, primarily through its dissemination of academic presented studies.[iii] It also developed connections with other right-wing organisations and offered training on ‘subversives’ to police and the military.

 His life was spent around the networks of power, lobbying, public relations and the communications activities that operate as keyboard warriors in the shadows, away from accountability the various “think tanks” of AIMS and Common Cause and others were outlets for his work. Greig’s prolific published themes reflected the anxieties of a section of the western political class as seen in an incomplete bibliography of books and briefings compiled from Foreign Affairs Publishing – postal address one-time above the shops at Arrow house, 27-31 Whitehall, SW1A 2BY. These were reviewed in foreign affairs journals, bought by the university’s libraries (see Trinity College Library Dublin) and included on undergraduate reading lists even today, and of course, digitalised.

The first to gain attention was The Assault on The West published in 1968 / 14 editions published between 1968 and 1974 in English and Chinese (Taipei: Youth Cultural Enterprise (1974))

Greig’s book The Assault on the West (1968) spelled out the dangers which he believed insufficiently alert western democracies faced from expansionist Communism aided by those engaged on internal subversion. It carried an approving preface by a close friend of Sir Alec Douglas-Home who shared his political views on the dangers of Communist expansion.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1903 -1995), served as Foreign Secretary then Prime Minister from October 1963 to October 1964. Narrowly defeated in the 1964 UK general election, Douglas-Home resigned the party leadership in July 1965. Noted for his forcefully expressed anti-communist beliefs, Home’s description of it as “a careful and detailed analysis of the multifarious ways in which they deal in subversion” reflects the cold war mentality that there was only one side as the problem. The focus on a grand narrative of expansion and subversion discounted western policies, the rhetoric of roll back and containment, and actions that created conditions for international mistrust and tension. The imperialist self-interest in his anti-communist crusading was subtly acknowledged:

The advertised aim of this “study of communist political warfare techniques [was] to present a general survey of the strategy and tactics employed by International Communism in its bid for world domination…..The main thrust of the communist offensive is now being centred upon attempts to gain control or influence over the developing countries of Asia, Africa and South America in which areas of the world the West’s vital sources of raw material lie.”

Work that followed reflected the angst of the age when resistance and liberation at home and abroad threatened the status quo, when linking arms and running down the Strand was an act of sedition.


Today’s Revolutionaries: a study of some prominent revolutionary movements and methods of sedition in Europe and the United States

14 editions published between 1970 and 1971 in 3 languages

Subversion: Propaganda, Agitation and the Spread of People’s War (1973)

5 editions published in 1973 

The Communist Challenge to Africa: an Analysis of Contemporary Soviet, Chinese and Cuban Policies (1977) Foreign Affairs Publishing now Richmond, Surrey based. 26 editions published in 1977 

Lord Chalfont’s endorsement in the book reflects part of the nexus of interlocking like=minded people and groups on the anti-communist landscape that sought to bolster and underpin the ideological authority that defended the West by attacking the East. He agrees that “many Western observers have come to the conclusion, reached some time ago by Chinese foreign policy experts, that the Soviet Union is engaged upon a programme of global expansion – that the Russians are, in effect, the new imperialists.” [A topic for a different posting]

According to the distorted and selective worldview  of people like Greig, the West’s rush to decolonize left an open door for the world’s new colonizing super-power – Russia. When Russia and, to a lesser extent China, moved through that door, the stage was set for the chaos and bloodshed that has become part and parcel of life on the continent. Written to make it plain that “foreign Communism is using the “liberation” of Africa as a stepping stone to its self-proclaimed goal of world domination.” South Africa, South West Africa and Rhodesia are clearly obstacles on the way to this goal – obstacles that Moscow would very much like removed – which was why, in the face of the national liberation armed struggle such racist white minority rule was defended by so many in Greig’s Monday Club and beyond.

Greig’s dire warning continued in numerous articles, through the Foreign Affairs Research Institute newsletter and in East-West Digest, of the threat to the West. Throughout 1977 churning out

  • East-West Digest: ‘Some recent developments affecting the defence of the Cape route’
  • Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘Moscow’s control over Mozambique and Angola’.
  • Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘Barbarism and communist intervention in the Horn of Africa’ by Ian Greig.
  • Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper and East-West Digest: ‘The need to safeguard NATO’s strategic raw materials from Africa’.
  • Foreign Affairs Research Institute paper: ‘The escalating Soviet and Cuban involvement in Africa’ by Ian Greig.

Africa: Soviet Action and Western Inaction (1978)

Iran and the lengthening Soviet shadow (1978)

The Ultra-Left Offensive Against Multinational Companies: Moscow’s Call for World Trade Union Unity (1979) 9 editions published between 1978 and 1980

The continuing crisis in Iran (1979) with James Philips

The security of Gulf oil (1980)

The need to respond to Soviet military pressure in the Third World (1980)

Soviet bloc activities in Africa (1980)

The emerging nature of the Soviet grand design (1980)

A new shadow falls on the Gulf (1981)

They mean what they say : a compilation of Soviet statements on ideology, foreign policy and the use of military force (1981) 7 editions published in 1981 

East Germany’s continuing offensive in the third world (1982)

The extent of Soviet support for African “liberation movements” revealed: report to the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 1982.

Soviet global power projection at the third world (1982)

The police under attack (1986) published by AIMs for Industry , an anti-trade union group , associated with Michael Ivens, in defence of free enterprise and freedom, publishers of the red scare material like  Reds under the Bed, Aims of Industry (January 1974)

Terrorism: a brief survey of the extent and nature of the threat from terrorist groups in Europe [and] in the Middle East (1987) published by Common Cause

The Second World War and Northern Ireland (1990)  published by Friends of the Union founded in 1986 by 16 Tory MPs and eight peers to maintain the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The organisation was wound up in 2006

Greig’s career across the gamut of right-wing causes marks him out as yesteryear’s shadow warrior upholding the Unionist cause, he wrote several pamphlets on Northern Ireland, some dealing with the influence of ultra-left groups.


[i] ) Ian Greig (Obituary), Glasgow Herald 4 November 1995. 

[ii]) Its history and operations quite exposed, and studied eg Michaels, J. H. (2014). The Heyday of Britain’s Cold War Think Tank: Brian Crozier and the Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1970–79. In Transnational Anti-Communism and the Cold War (pp. 146-160). Palgrave Macmillan

iii)  Including Bertil Haggman’s 1975, Sweden’s Maoist “subversives”: a case study. Conflict studies, no. 58

Red and Green , an Irish Maoist Bloom?

There has been a red thread running through modern revolutionary nationalism that traces its legacy to James Connolly. The latest incarnation , operating mainly through Anti Imperialist Action Ireland , Irish Socialist Republicans draw consciously upon the Irish revolutionary tradition seeking first to complete the unfinished revolutionary tasks of 1916.

It is the perspective proclaimed by James Connolly

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs”

     For National Liberation & Socialist Revolution

Anti Imperialist Action Ireland describes itself as an all Ireland Socialist Republican mass organisation.

Our position is that Ireland is both a colony and a semi-colony. It is a colony in that the British government forcibly occupy six counties of Ireland while maintaining indirect control of the remaining 26 counties.”

Adhering to the position made popular since the Belfast Agreement of April 1998, that “The British have worked for decades to move Republicans to a constitutional rather than a Revolutionary position.”

Operating at the margins of the broader republican nationalist continuum, the Irish Socialist Republicans maintain a minority left communist maximalist position echoing intransigent pronouncements expressed in the Republican movement in the past.

Reformism, Revisionism and Electoralism are the tools of our enemies to keep our class exploited and oppressed and must be rejected….The only dealings Revolutionary Irish Republicans should have with the British government is to dictate terms of a British withdrawal.”. 

As a class-based organisation, AIA is looking to build upon that Irish revolutionary tradition based on working class militancy and the perspective of what William Morris saw as “when class-robbery is abolished, every man will reap the fruits of his labour.” (forgive the aged gender pronoun) That overtly socialist foundation to its republican politics distinguishes the AIA current from the reformist and bourgeois elements in the nationalist continuum.

Play your part in finishing the business of 1916.

AIA, formed winter 2017, argues the issues directly facing the Irish working class flow from partition and British imperialist occupation, this the primary contradiction in Ireland and dictates the struggle for national liberation (the end to partition of the Six Counties) and Socialist Revolution is primary.

 We build on the revolutionary tradition and ideology of Irish Socialist Republicanism, first laid down by James Connolly, as the inextinguishable lamp to guide the feet of the Irish Workers to victory. With Connolly, we follow the Irish Citizen Army and uphold the idea that the Working Class must have our own fighting and political organisations. Like the Citizen Army we hold that there is ‘but one ideal – an Ireland ruled, and owned, by Irish men and women, sovereign and independent from the centre to the sea, and flying its own flag outward over all the oceans.’   

What began as a small organisation with a core of experienced activists has developed, in that short space of time, into an All Ireland Socialist Republican Mass Organisation, with a growing membership of Revolutionary Youth across the country. [Macradh- ISR Youth established at Easter 2019] A new generation born after the Good Friday surrender learning the ‘Fenian Faith’ from veterans of the struggle.

ISR boasts having an organised presence in every city in the Occupied Six Counties…. As Irish Socialist Republicans, as Irish Marxist Revolutionaries, for ultimate victory over British imperialism we understand that it is necessary to continue to engage our forces within the class struggle and we must see this struggle to its bitter end. 

To smash the class system we need to build a united broad front of militant left republicans, socialists and solid community activists, we continue to unite with those progressives and the masses who have committed to fight imperialism. 

Key priorities for Irish Socialist Republicans

The organisation identifies three sectors to concentrate work on:

  1. Irish Socialist Republicans reiterate our commitment to waging the class struggle and combating and resisting the enemies of the working class, be it the exploitative employers, landlords, or imperialist vultures that prey on our communities.  Throughout the course of 2021 we will step up our activism to resist evictions, build revolutionary trade unions and fight for Public Housing.
  2. Our activists played a leading role in the fight against Britain’s Far Right in Ireland and their efforts to gain a foothold for fascism in our Country…..extend solidarity to all who mobilised under the leadership of Anti Fascist Action Ireland and we look forward to standing beside you….. uphold the tried and tested policy of no platform. ……
  3. ISR are working for an Anti Imperialist Broad Front to lead the struggle for Nationalist Liberation and Socialist Revolution…..All Ireland Anti Fascist Resistance

It has begun to spread its message in social media with postings as
Marxism-Leninism-Maoism Ireland on Facebook, and traditional print medium through stickers and production of the bi-lingual magazine The Socialist Republican. This aims to encourage discussion and debate among the Republican Base and to act as a resource for Revolutionary theory and practice. The first edition of a self-advertised MLM Theoretical Journal , An Ghrian Dhearg appeared in 2020  with a main feature on “Lessons from Loughgall”.[i]

The organisation acknowledges its engagement in public activity such as

  • Symbolic actions…

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the launch of the 1980 Hunger Strike, Anti Imperialist Action renamed Merrion Road in Dublin that houses the UK Embassy, as Bóthar Breandan MacAodha/ Brendan Hughes Road, and the annual ongoing Poppy Watch Patrols whereby Anti Imperialist Action members confiscated “Brit Imperialist Poppy Wreaths”, as in Bray, County Wicklow, and burned them.

  • Campaigning on working class issues …

Anti Imperialist Action in Dublin have launched a new Revolutionary Housing Action Campaign and like the Land League of old, we are fighting for the 3F’s: Fair Rents 2. Fuck Evictions and 3. Funding Public Housing

  • And for political rights….

Stop the Extradition of Liam Campbell Campaign. In May 2009, he was arrested following the issue of a European Arrest Warrant at the behest of the Lithuanian authorities, where he was wanted in connection with a gun running plot which saw his brother Michael arrested. Campbell remained in prison for four years and was released in 2013 following the decision of Belfast Recorders Court to deny Campbell’s extradition to Lithuania. 

  • Commemorating Ireland’s rich revolutionary history with

Pickets honouring Ireland’s patriotic dead e.g.  Annual candlelit vigil for Vol. Kevin Barry at the GPO, grave-side commemorations and remembrance for former patriotic fighters for Ireland. It planning includes this year’s 40th anniversary of the Hunger Strike campaign.

Static demonstration solidarity with Pickets in support of Irish and International Political Prisoners, take solidarity action on the streets on campaigns highlighted by Maoists worldwide: release of Comrade Amhad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, of Chairman Gonzalo, the leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) of Leonard Peltier of the American Indian Movement and of Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Communist. [ii]

Leaning to Maoism

Their publications and social media utterances are peppered with maoist terminology and references and more overt advocacy that identifies a current of thinking with militant republican  nationalism last seen in Cork in the 1960s.[iii]

For ultimate victory against our enemies we have initiated the correct policies and have put in place well planned militant Marxism – Leninism – Maoism as our scientific revolutionary ideology that has proven correct in many parts of the world.[iv]

Connections to developing MLM resources e.g.  Its activities and statements reproduced on Maoist website like the news site, Redspark [v] and the related publishing house, Foreign Language Press produced a collection of speeches “Revolutionary Writings” by Seamus Costello, the INLA Chief of Staff assassinated October 1977 by the Official IRA, in its “Colorful Classics” Collection.[vi] 

AIA reciprocates the signs of solidarity reproducing statements and reports from the Maoist environs on its website, such as the 2020 international 1st of May declaration “Proletarians of all countries, unite! Cast away the illusions and launch into fight!”, published on a German Gonzaloist site.  This call to arms aimed squarely at the Maoist milieu.[vii] Furthermore its public association tends to be linking to the more Gonzaloist tendencies articles e,g the MLM internet review, Communist International.


[i]   Available to purchase from  An Culturlann 216 Falls Rd, Belfast BT12 6AH Price: £2.50

[ii] Irish Socialist Republican New Year Statement 2021. https://anti-imperialist-action-ireland.com/blog/2021/01/01/irish-socialist-republican-new-year-statement-2021/

[iii] https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ireland/index.htm

[iv] Liam Jordan . ‘Revolutionary Strength derives from Socialist Republican Struggle’  https://anti-imperialist-action-ireland.com/blog/2020/05/01/class-struggle/

[v] Redspark has articles archived at https://www.redspark.nu/en/tag/anti-imperialist-action-ireland/

[vi] https://woodsmokeblog.wordpress.com/tag/seamus-costello/

[vii] https://demvolkedienen.org/index.php/en/t-dokumente-en/3923-cast-away-the-illusions-and-launch-into-fight

Swept under the carpet

The Catholic church and sexual abuses was the subject of a previous post discussed in relation to the film Spotlight and activities of Father Geoghan. The focus here is on the inactivity of the church in England and Wales which was subject to a major report issued in November 2020.

The extent of institutional failings by the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales to protect children from sexual abuse was the subject of an investigation report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. https://www.iicsa.org.uk/ [i]

It drew on the Inquiry’s three case studies on Ampleforth and Downside Abbeys and their respective schools, Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, and the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Between 1970 and 2015, the Catholic Church in England received more than 900 complaints involving over 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against more than 900 individuals connected to the Church, including priests, monks and volunteers. In the same period, there were 177 prosecutions resulting in 133 convictions.

It is not just a historical problem. Since 2016, there have been more than 100 reported allegations each year. Across the entire period of nearly 50 years covered by this Inquiry, the true scale of sexual abuse of children is likely to have been much higher.

Its moral purpose was betrayed over decades by those in the Church who perpetrated this abuse and those who turned a blind eye to it. The Church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual well-being of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.

The sexual offending involved acts of masturbation, oral sex, vaginal rape and anal rape. On occasions, it was accompanied by sadistic beatings driven by sexual gratification, and often involved deeply manipulative behaviour by those in positions of trust, who were respected by parents and children alike.

The failure to act decisively when the allegations were first raised consigned other children to the same fate. It permeated the responses of the Catholic Church with little accountability and sometimes active cover-up, until the Nolan report in 2001.

However little progress has been made to ensure that victims and survivors have access to the pastoral and therapeutic support, as the Church’s contact with some victims was characterised by a lack of empathy and compassion. Common to the American experience (and elsewhere) victims were met with grudging and unsympathetic attitude, suspects were moved from one institution to another – from parish to parish, abbey to abbey – with the receiving body not informed of the dangers posed by the individual being sent to them. Child abusers like Father James Robinson, Father David Pearce and Father Samuel Penney – had repeated accusations of having sexually abused children disregarded.

Some institutions and individuals in the Church failed to report allegations and concerns to police and statutory authorities as required. There were failures to consider the risks posed to children by perpetrators who were seen as colleagues, brethren and friends and not as sexual abusers of children.

In May 2019, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: “We humbly ask forgiveness … for our slowness and defensiveness and for our neglect of both preventative and restorative actions”. During the final public hearing in November 2018, he apologised for the Church’s failings, noting that this was a source of “great sorrow and shame for me and, indeed I know, for the Catholic Church”. But there was no acknowledgement of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change preferring to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church.

This attitude transcend national boundaries as the report noted commenting on the lack of support and information when requested of the Papacy in Rome:

“The Holy See’s limited response on this matter manifestly did not demonstrate a commitment to taking action. Their lack of cooperation passes understanding.”

In its final review of the church, the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) 162-page report said “the church’s neglect of the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children and young people in favour of protecting its reputation was in conflict with its mission of love and care for the innocent and vulnerable.”[ii]

Of Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales: “There was no acknowledgment of any personal responsibility to lead or influence change. Nor did he demonstrate compassion towards victims in the recent cases which we examined.”

Members of the survivors group White Flowers Alba in the wake of the publication of the report called upon Cardinal Nichols and the present papal nuncio, Archbishop Adams, to “resign immediately… he has lost all moral authority and must go … This report once again demonstrates that the Catholic church is not a safe place for children.”

Not  just abuse of authority, crimes were committed

The sexual abuse of children involved instances of “masturbation, oral sex, vaginal rape and anal rape”. On occasions, the inquiry says, it was accompanied by “sadistic beatings driven by sexual gratification” as well as “deeply manipulative behaviour by those in positions of trust”.

One child estimated that between the ages of 11 and 15 he had been abused hundreds of times by a priest. “After each incident he was required to make confession, and the priest concerned made it plain that his sister’s place at a local convent school depended on his compliance,” the report says.

When complaints were made, the church invariably failed to support victims and survivors but took action to protect alleged perpetrators by moving them to a different parish. “Child sexual abuse,” the report says, “was swept under the carpet.”

“The fact is Nichols is a serial protector of paedophiles and he is the person that you should least expect it from. The head of a church should have the greatest morals of all but instead they were sending paedophiles to other areas of the country – and America – in an attempt to cover the abuse up.”

Prof Alexis Jay, the chair of the inquiry, said: “For decades, the Catholic church’s failure to tackle child sexual abuse consigned many more children to the same fate. It is clear that the church’s reputation was valued above the welfare of victims, with allegations ignored and perpetrators protected. Even today, the responses of the Holy See appear at odds with the pope’s promise to take action on this hugely important problem.” [iii]

Responding to calls for Nichols’ departure, a church spokesperson said the cardinal would not be resigning following the inquiry’s criticisms because he was “determined to put it right”. In accordance with Vatican rules, Nichols wrote to the Holy See in the run-up to his 75th birthday, to offer his resignation. Pope Francis had asked him to continue as a cardinal, the spokesperson said.

Pope Francis has made a number of public statements condemning the scourge of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church worldwide. Given the supernatural moral claims and celibacy myths of the church, the main canonical crime in child sexual abuse cases should not be expressed as crime of adultery but as a crime against the child.

Independent of the report from Britain’s  Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Vatican took the extraordinary step of publishing its two-year investigation into the disgraced American ex-Cardinal McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019 after the Vatican determined that years of rumours that he was a sexual predator were true. He was the first cardinal to resign from the College of Cardinals because of claims of sexual abuse.

McCarrick had a “proclivity for young boys”

McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after decades of allegations that the Church’s envoy had sexually molested adults as well as children. McCarrick is said to have ‘shared a bed with young adult men in the Bishop’s residence in Metuchen and Newark’ and ‘shared a bed with adult seminarians at this beach house on the New Jersey shore’

  • One alleged victim describes how McCarrick ‘told me how everyone knows him and how powerful he was’. He said: ‘The archbishop kept saying ‘Pray for your poor uncle.” 
  • A former altar boy came forward in 2017 alleging that McCarrick groped him when he was a teenager during preparations for Christmas Mass in 1971 and 1972 in New York.

Pope John Paul II, who was named a saint in 2014, knew of the extensive sex abuse allegations against American cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but still promoted him to archbishop in Washington DC, a Vatican investigation has found. American bishops sanitized reports of what they knew and all but ensured that warnings would arrive at the Vatican unsubstantiated or dismissible.  Pope Benedict XVI was portrayed as trying to handle the cardinal quietly and out of the public spotlight, and Pope Francis as assuming that his successors had made the right judgments.

The Washington Post observed:

The Vatican’s report amounts to a stunning play-by-play of the kind of systemic failure that the Catholic Church normally keeps under wraps, describing how McCarrick amassed power and prestige in the face of rumors, and sometimes written evidence, about his sexual misconduct with seminarians, priests and teenage boys.”[iv]

With such news there are those who are shocked, saddened and angered, by the disclosures but it is harder to be scandalized by what has been an all too frequent revelation that in terms of organised religion, it is the organisation that retains the precedence. Worldwide responses to disclosures about sexual abuse have been characterised by a failure to support victims and survivors in stark contrast to the positive action taken to protect alleged perpetrators and the reputation of the Church.


[i]  An equally scathing report had been published , The Anglican Church ;Safeguarding in the Church of England and the Church in Wales in October 2020.

[ii] Owen Bowcott and Harriet Sherwood, Child sexual abuse in Catholic church ‘swept under the carpet’, inquiry finds Leader of church in England and Wales refusing to resign despite damning IICSA report. The Guardian Online 10 Nov 2020 

[iii] – Owen Bowcott and Harriet Sherwood 2020

[iv] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/vatican-mccarrick-sexual-abuse/2020/11/10/c92de382-2045-11eb-ad53-4c1fda49907d_story.html

Bank Holiday Fun

The photograph is of a man in mid-flight from a chasing policeman. This is his tale of being arrested.

tron-grim-April 6, 1968ogrim

Flanked by a younger Tron and detail from the cover of Tron Øgrim the revolutionary fireworks by Bo Brekke, Tron Øgrim runs from a policeman during an illegal demonstration against the Vietnam War in April 1968.

Tron Orgrim’s reminiscence are taken from a posting made in February 2004. Enough time has passed to safely transgress the reticence of disclosure particularly as it contains no revelations, no implications of damaging reputation or betrayal of trust. It is a familiar activists’ memory, a minor element in a mosaic of a revolutionary life lived reproduced out of fond memory and respect for the man from the north who, in equal measure, enlightened and entertained and infuriated an audience of “leftist trainspotters” before his untimely death in 2007.

If you live in a glass house
You shouldn’t throw napalm!

We were about 10, all from the (then Maoist) SUF youth union of the SF party (about to break with it 45 years ago in March 1969) and the SOLIDARITETSKOMITEEN FOR VIETNAM (SOLKOM) the absolutely dominating solidarity movement in Norway which we lead from about 1967.

On the other side of the street (to the left in the picture, you don’t see it) it’s the park of the royal castle. We came down the street on the backside of the royal castle, and our predetermined tactic when the small police guard would follow us after the attack, was to divide our forces in every side-street in order to give the police as few to follow as possible.

We ran forward and threw our stones {at Oslo’s American embassy]. Some windows shattered (I have never been a good thrower and I gotta admit that I probably smashed nothing…)

  • Hey! Shouted the police (they were possibly only 3, maybe 4).

The first side-street was downtown from the enemy and away from the town. I was in the group running away from the town.

A girl I knew ran towards the town. A thin, long-legged comrade (later for many years RV parliamentarian in the county of Nordland) ran past her, as she had rather short legs… when a policeman ran past her too, following in his heels, she understood she could slow down.

For us running away from the town centre, there was immediately a side-street, straight ahead and to the left.

Some comrades ran straight on, as I was behind them, it was my task to run to the left. At this time together with one comrade – as he had diabetes he was of course called “melis” (icing sugar).

Two policemen behind us and we being (at the time) young and fleet, we ran away from him. Then came a bloody traitor of a taxi driver and picked him up.

Next side-street, straight ahead on the street on the back of the royal castle or to the left. “Melis” took the left side, and I ran straight on.

One of the policemen jumped out and followed “Melis” running.

The policeman in the taxi followed only me, and got me after 20 metres.

Having arrested me, he waited for his colleagues, who had followed “Melis” into a building of flats. (As the outer entrance of Oslo apartment houses were usually not locked at this time, this was open).

We waited for a long time, and then he came back: “I followed that guy into the backyard. As he wasn’t there I ran up all the stairs but couldn’t find him. I really don’t know where he has disappeared.”

“Melis” at the time was in a trash can in the back yard, having pulled the cover over his head. So he got away too.

So I was the only one arrested that night.

And got a month. Had my day in court too, political defence and some funny details. That’s another story.

Still feel well about the whole thing, including out running that cop, and mildly irritated about the stupid reactionary taxi guy.

And of course, NOW the US imperialists got their OWN armed guards in the embassy – armoured glass in the windows – and are putting up a HUGE BERLIN WALL around their fortress – and even the TORIES in Oslo dislike them openly:

We got them on the run comrades!

 

….a few lost sheep, or a vast herd

Watched Spotlight last weekend; the film follows The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team of investigative journalist as they investigates the cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by numerous  Catholic priests. The opening scene signals the historical truth: In 1976, at a Boston Police station, two policemen discuss the arrest of Catholic priest Fr. John Geoghan for child molestation and a high ranking cleric talks to the mother of the children. The Assistant District Attorney then enters the precinct and tells the policemen not to let the press get wind of what has happened. The arrest is hushed up, and the priest is released.

The unravelling tale that follows is, with some creative licence, a dramatic account that documents the slow exposure of the scale and spread of the abuse occurring and the silent veil drawn across it.

A truth that is extraordinary and disturbing for the Church adherents is the fundamental schizophrenia in the Church that allowed to flourish the serial child rape by priests and how the Church and church structure play a role in these abuse scandals.

Wherever you want to focus on the experience, the truth remains that the individual abuse was compounded by the institutional abuse that followed. A point subtly made in the film’s end credits with the information that Cardinal Law was eventually promoted to a high office in the Vatican before presenting a list of places in the United States and around the world where major scandals involving abuse by priests took place. There was a clerical culture of secrecy which starts in junior seminaries and continues right up to the Vatican. There remains an obvious unwillingness to address the culture of purposeful cover-up that questions the authenticity of the Church’s expressions of repentance. The lack of transparency, reform of the Vatican Curia, openness around historical abuses and corruption, the double-lives lived and bureaucratic power intrigues that afflict the administration of the institution of the Church, all reinforce the lack of responsiveness in terms of function let alone morality, ethics or theology.

No longer open secrets? Rumours? The celibacy of priests, the condemnation of the use of contraceptives, the cover up of countless cases of Child sexual abuse by clergy, the resignation of Benedict XVI, misogyny among the clergy, the dramatic fall in Europe of the number of vocations to the priesthood, the plotting against Pope Francis – all these issues are at the heart of the Vatican and the Catholic Church today

Since 2002, the Roman Catholic Church has been in crisis over the sexual abuse of minors by priests and the cover-up of those crimes by bishops. Over 11,000 alleged victims have reported their experiences to the Church, and more than 4,700 priests since 1950 have been credibly accused of sexually victimizing minors. The Church has paid over one billion dollars to adults who claim to have been sexually abused by priests and there is no end in sight to these lawsuits. For most victims, the cases are not about money. They want apologies and acknowledgement especially from clergymen they were brought up to obey, respect and often fear.

Newspapers in the UK regularly carry reports of catholic sex abuse scandals and priests being jailed [The Times January 17th 2012 identified 31 known convictions for sex offences since 2002 whereas the Church listed only 11].It remains an prevalent issue: Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigned as Archbishop in 2013, and a report by Lord Carlile detailed child sex abuse within St Benedict’s catholic school. It is in the nature of these cases that people take a very long time to make a complaint at the “sinful and criminal acts” by Catholic clergy.

Because the pattern of abuse and cover-up has been so similar across the world, authors question whether there is something fundamentally awry with Church traditions and power structures in relationship to sexuality and sexual abuse. Specifically, some have explored how aspects of the Catholic theology of sexuality set the stage for the abuse of minors and its cover-up. All detail the bishops’ violation of trust and the lack of pastoral care and tendency of clerical narcissism–the belief that the needs of the hierarchy represent the needs of the wider Church.

As to why the Church hierarchy, fellow priests, and lay people were silent for so long: centuries-old theological errors encouraged blind submission to hierarchy, by making obedience to authority the highest virtue. For too many victims that meant listening to the advice of the Church and supress the stories of (what has been mainly) men who gave an image of piety in public and lead a quite different life in private. The abuses of the Sisters have been of a different psychological and physical nature as in the Irish experience of those committed to their “care”.


After years of investigation, a bibliography of abuse could be compiled; what should suffice is that these titles speak for themselves:

Frederic Martel (2019) In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy. London: Bloomsbury

Jason Berry (2000) Lead Us Not into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. University of Illinois Press

Jason Berry (2004) Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power and Sexual Crisis in the Papacy of John Paul II. New York: Free Press

Jeffrey Ferro (2005) Sexual misconduct and the clergy. New York: Facts On File, Inc

Louise Milligan (2017) Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell. Melbourne University Press

Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea (2007) Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press

Michael D’Antonio (2013) Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal. New York: St Martin’s Press

Michael Kerrigan (2014) Dark History of the Catholic Church: schisms, wars, inquisitions, witch hunts, scandals, corruption. London: Amber Books

Thomas G. Plante (2004) Sin Against the Innocents: Sexual Abuse by Priests and the Role of the Catholic Church. Westport: Praeger Publishers

Tom Keneally (2016) Crimes of the Father. Vintage


 

MLM Line Struggle on new internationalism

IMG_001In the second decade of the 21st century the calls for a substantive gathering of organisations and parties have grown in recent years, there is an added sense of urgency provided by the 100th anniversary celebration of the Communist International, inaugurated on March 6, 1919 with its First Congress in Moscow. It is widely seen as “the highest form of proletarian internationalism and international organization of the proletariat as a world class.”

May Day 2019, fifteen organisations pledge to organize a preparatory meeting this year for an International Joint Conference of the MLM parties and organizations stating this was a call for a unity based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, on the path of people’s war for the development of the world proletarian revolution. [2019 MAY DAY RED AND INTERNATIONALIST !]

Other groupings equally publicize that they are making strides towards holding the ‘United Maoist International Conference’ UMIC. that started as an initiative in the Meetings of MLM Parties and Organizations in Latin America associated with Communist Party of Brazil – Red Fraction and Communist Party of Ecuador – Red Sun.[i] Existing forums, and the existence of other initiatives, such as “Maoist Road” are associated with various “united front” approaches, are not regarded in the same light as an ideological-defined international. Ever since May 2016 and the 5th Meeting of MLM Parties and Organizations of Latin America, parties and organizations from different parts of the world started to work systematically for the preparation of a Unified Maoist International Conference.

What it hopes for is that the proposed “International Maoist International Conference will seal and open. It will seal an entire stage of struggle of the communists in the struggle against the dispersion of forces and open a new phase in the struggle of the Communists for the reconstitution of the Communist International.”.

In returning to the theme of ‘global Maoism’ and the search for consolidation evidence of an enduring transnational ideological appeal, the focus is on the contribution offered from South America. In one camp much of the theoretical justification draws upon the work of the Communist Party of Brazil – Red Fraction in El Maoista magazine. An emerging network of fraternal groups are raising fundamental questions and problems of advancing a two-line struggle in the international communist movement. Principally advancing the contribution of the universal validity of Gonzalo Thought and of People’s war in their particular understanding of Maoism.[2]

The focus on the nature and form of the revolutionary party and task of initiating the People’s war divides maoist organisations with some of those engaged in armed struggle against it ( as with the Communist Party of the Philippines), while others in far from favourable conditions, supporting it.[3]

IMG_002

An alternative view from South America that illustrates some of the difficulties in arriving at an agreed position is in the Columbian view [4] that covers the divisions in historical legacy and contemporary strategy equally intent to unite the various self-identifying Maoist strands beyond the principles of mutual support, cooperation and mutual or common benefit.

Unlike the CPB (RF) other organisations express reservations about uncritical wholesale adoption of Gonzalo Thought with the Columbian view, and others [e.g. Norwegian blog, MLM Thoughts and American group, Mass Proletariat [5]] there is opposition of the personality cult developed around the leadership theory of “Guiding Thought” associated with one of the small Gonzaloist trend[6] .

“ The Marxist Leninist Maoist theory about leaders is diametrically opposed to the cult of personality called “guiding thought”, “ways” and “synthesis” keyed in the RIM; this anti-Marxist conception of leaders in the same experience of the RIM checked to lead to revisionism, to the disaster of communist organisation and defeat, renunciation or delivery of the revolution. Of those anti-Marxist theories derives the pilgrim prophecy that the party of the proletariat can’t be built, it can’t successfully lead the revolution in one country, but has a great leader that gives shape and national content to Marxism Leninism Maoism.” UOC (MLM): 145

The inability to agree on the past has consequences

Columbian argues there were hesitations and the germ of a division within the Comintern about the policy of the United Fronts and Popular Fronts: on one side an interpretation that resulted in class conciliation when arguing that there was an anti-fascist bourgeoisie open to a reformist programme; in contrast was that in striving to secure the immediate objective – the defeat of fascism – this should be achieved without sacrificing the vital interests of the movement.

Could the 7th Congress be a stumbling block to new internationalism? Any overall assessment of the 7th Congress has a pedigree in the movement with differing interpretations provided from individuals and to the smallest groups.[7]

“Such line struggle was unveiled in the Seventh Congress not expressly condemned the tendency to give up the independence of class in the front; not clearly demarcated borders between Marxism and opportunism in this matter, tolerating eclecticism that ultimately favoured an opportunist line application of the International by many communist parties, and that degenerated frankly towards browderist conception, according to which the fight against fascisms suppressed the class struggle in each country – give up the fight against fascist bourgeoisie – and considers the fascist imperialism as progressive, hiding the reactionary nature and rapacious all imperialism – whether or not a fascist – diverting the labour movement towards social-democratic class conciliation and the renunciation of the anti-imperialist struggle. Two diametrically opposed interpretations of the Unite Front and Popular Front, where the Communists had formal unity in orientation, but real division in their understanding and practical application”   UOC (MLM): 131

Internationalism is in the DNA of the politics

The absence of an international structure since 1943 is seen as contributing to the progress of a revisionist wave that engulf the various national sectors. The Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) quoting Mao in support:

“In a post-World War II period, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the parties of some Eastern European countries set aside the fundamental principles of Marxism. They spread a cloak of silence about the class struggle, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the Party, democratic centralism, the links of the Party with the masses, etc., and the atmosphere that was lived there was of little interest for these things. ”  [8]

 The Philippine party has long argued that there is no need for a “father-party” and that bi-lateral relations should be the standard relationship with internationalist relationship – In 1994 guidelines for such relationships stated:

“The CPP favors bilateral relations with foreign parties as the principal form of its international relations. Bilateral relations logically and necessarily follow from the principle and reality of the integrity and independence of the CPP as well as its equality with every foreign party with which it relates. The CPP can better handle its bilateral relations than multilateral ones in ideological and political terms and in the most concrete forms of cooperation. “ [9]

UOC (mlm), reject accepting the autonomy of parties against centralised direction, argues that organisationally the form should be a world party of the proletariat and not a World Federation of proletarian parties.

“The Communist party of each country must be a contingent of the International Communist movement, a section of the International and its struggle, part of the world struggle for communism that subordinates the interests of the struggle in each country to the interests of the World Proletarian Revolution.” UOC (MLM): 139

An added factor to the differences in assessment and evaluation of the historical legacy is evident in the documents and line struggle that has emerged over the contemporary response to the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement [RIM] that shapes the current positions in the call for overcoming the great dispersion of forces which has characterized the ICM over the recent decades.

Without collaboration in actual policies or coordination of a general outlook, where is the internationalism in collective decision-making? The UOC (mlm) is not alone in believing that the way forward is to push the ideological struggle, to rally the like-minded and draw lines of demarcation to create a smaller but coherent movement.

“Work to finalize the new Communist International, task that does necessary to clarify in the ideologically to unite politically and build the organisation. The union of Marxist Leninist Maoist in the Program for the World Proletarian Revolution, for Socialism and Communism, is not possible without the principled and intransigent struggle against opportunism, without close ties between the communist organisations in different countries, agreeing joint political campaigns internationally, materially contributing to the tasks, organising meetings or conferences where expands and debates issues of historical experience, the current political situation and the General Line, practicing the method of start from a base unit to fight for conquer a greater degree of unity.” UOC (MLM): 148

Mapping out the existing divisions

The C(m)PA, together with CPm Italy and the then CPI ML-Naxalbari, were signatories of the resolution called “Special Resolution” published on May 1st, 2012 that formalized the liquidation of RIM. [10]

RIM was conceived as an embryonic political centre however the type of International that would emerge was less certain. A proposal of the character of its replacement was put forward by the Columbian UOC (mlm) in 2016.

The main subjective cause of the emergence and dominance of revisionism within RIM were said to be

“the incorrect method of secret discussion of differences, tolerance with opportunist tendencies given the excessive cult of personality and thinking of leaders that long ago had taken flight in the movement; concessions to opportunism that handcuffed to the parties when revisionism openly rose in the ranks of the RIM, and they condemned to their Committees – gnaw it by cancer revisionist avakianism – to silent before revisionist betrayal vile of the revolution in Nepal, to the proletariat, to MLM and to the own statements of RIM, all of which led to its bankruptcy.” UOC (MLM):137

Furthermore, “made common cause with the false Maoism “new” PCN(M) whose lie and program required full compliance with the Peace Agreement of 2006.The betrayal they don’t see in the agreement but rather the politicking by Prachanda and Bhattarai inside the reactionary state. They have not broken with the revisionist line of “Prachanda Path” or are afraid to admit were wrong.”

The Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) analysis reflects similar concerns:

“RIM ceased to play a positive role when the revisionists of the “RCP” from United States – taking advantage of the problematic situation of the left due to the bend in the People’s War in Peru – turned to totally hegemonize it.” false leaders such as Prachanda and Bathharai or failed prophets like Avakian were exposed and demoralized as “new revisionism”, opposed to Maoism.”

The essential condition to go forward to a great regrouping of communists is the clear demarcation of areas with all kinds of opportunism, to elaborate ideological and political unity in a General Line, which provides a solid bases to pursue the innumerable discussions and inevitable struggle to transform the world.

“A General Line that collects the historical experience of the Proletarian Revolution, that defends the principles of Marxism Leninism Maoism examining its light the specific situation of the world contradictions of imperialism and that to provide clear guidance facing to the critical current problems of World Proletarian Revolution. UOC (MLM):139 [11]

Modern General Line for the 21st century to encompass the complex, highly diverse and rapidly changing world-wide processes of change has a scaffolding of a “general line” guiding the tactics and the strategy of the movement, in that the Columbian suggestions these include:

An underdeveloped implication in the general tasks of the communist is to “make greater efforts and sacrifices for concentrating the revolutionary force in the weak links of the global chain of imperialism” is revolutionary migration – perhaps as seen in support for the Kurdish forces fighting in Syria in the last decade?

 Nature of the Party

 Colombians are critical of the theory of militarized party popularise from the Peruvian experience. While clearly identifying the armed struggle of the masses as the highest form of political struggle, they argue:

“In adopting orthodox argument that “the theory of militarized party, affined to guevarism and “leftism”, very radical in appearance but is actually a theory that undermines the role of the Party and breaks the conscious discipline, feature not only of Party members, but also the actuation of the broad masses in the era of capitalism, for the first time in history they exercise its quality role as protagonists of the revolution.” UOC (MLM): 140

The conscious unity of Party members, rather than the hierarchal obedience necessary in a fighting unit, and emersion and contact with the revolutionary masses so that “the policy of the Communists is public, but the character of the organisation is always clandestine” is the approach of the UOC. A militarised party is thought to denigrate the development of the party ideologically, minimising line struggle through criticism and self-criticism, Marxist education, and too readily categorises line struggle as the plots of police and imperialism shutting down arguments allowing ideas to move freely within the ranks, it allows resolution by those who believe in eliminating opportunistic thoughts by physically liquidating their carriers attacking the ranks of the Party and its wider relationships.

In the new century the legacy of struggle and the positive methodology of the old parties were ill-appreciated when nuances of leftism prevailed that counterpoised this approach with the preparation of the people’s war which can subsume the political to the weapon, that despise the ideological and political work among the masses forging their class consciousness about the role of the armed people and revolutionary objectives of their armed struggle. In substituting in a small consciously committed group as the cutting edge it draws upon foci theory and the ‘propaganda of the deed’ both discredited in experience, and contemptuous of the mass line and organising the class to face its fight. The tasks of communist seen as traditionally in the struggle to obtain revolutionary leadership of the working class and its institutions through agitation and propaganda, to communicate to the masses a true picture of class relations and interests that exists in society, explain why the socialist transformation is necessary and unavoidable and their own crucial role to perform in this historical transformation.

The French Maoist Communist Party, argued[12]:

“On People’s War some members of parties and organisations do recognize the universality of Maoism but deny the universal nature of people’s war because it has not been defined by Mao.”

They stick to the thesis that:   People’s wars can take only place in countries where the oppressed peasantry is important, where vast areas are not accessible because the means of communication are few and insufficiently developed etc. – In the imperialist countries such conditions do not exist.

Combatants of People’s War recognise contentious concerns that question what seldom appears in partisan propaganda and sometimes erupt in polemical fury. But here, in a statement not dated by time, is a quietly spoken observation from a leading combatant:

“Our capacity has been reduced to the military needs of the war.” In response to the intense state repression, they have increased their attention to the military attacks and counter-attacks at the expense of the political education of their soldiers, the ethical foundation of their cadres and the politicisation of their supporters.

The militarised party as a party building strategy has some serious flaws, not least what happens when the general command is “decapitated” by the enemy, how can that vanguard leadership be maintained in the ranks if exercised in a command structure less democratic-centralism and more directed, how can momentum be maintained in the struggle if mass involvement is not regarded as militarily important?

IMG_004Veteran chairman-founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison’s comments on the question of people’s war in industrial countries were critical of a tendency without naming names:

“There is no protracted people’s war of any kind going on in any industrial capitalist country. What has been protracted is merely idle talk or hot air about the possibility of waging protracted people’s war.  No serious preparations for it are being made.

It is only a “Left” opportunist, a fake Maoist or even an agent provocateur who has disdain for the lasting admonition of the Communist Manifesto to win the battle for democracy against the bourgeois class dictatorship and who clamors for proclaiming and starting a people’s war in an industrial capitalist country without the necessary preparations of the subjective forces and the favorable objective conditions that I have mentioned.” [13]

And Sison’s article was immediately counter with the call to Defend and apply the universality of Protracted People’s War! attributed to Ard Kinera, contributor to TFM website.
Earlier in this year arguments on the internet that focused less on Gonzalo/Guzman and more on those who raise the banner of Gonzalo Thought and how they interpret and what applies in their struggles. It started with an article commenting on the demise of a small American activist group and encompassed the position that nobody should charge Chairman Gonzalo with the simplifications of many of his supporters in Peru and abroad. [14]

IMG_005

So what it initiated was polemical exchanges on the understanding of the contribution of Chairman Gonzalo and the interpretation and application by some of those activists who identified and support that contribution regarding them as an ultra-left deviation. This was followed by counter thesis from the US Red Guard associate, Struggle Sessions, A Crackle of Hens in response to the attacks on “our German Comrades”. This was reinforced in late January by Tjen Folket Media’s contribution, “Answer to Blog Post Against Gonzaloby Øystein Iversen. [See texts in Political Puritanism collection]

Anything less than fulsome references to Chairman Gonzalo is objectionable on the grounds that as he the one who more than any other has summarize Maoism and more than that:

“Gonzalo, furthermore, did not simply “summarize” Maoism; he synthesized it aIMG_006nd in doing so brought the whole of the ICM out of increasing darkness. Through the application of this synthesis he developed greater analysis which pushed MLM even further.”

(Kavga’s A Crackle of Hens )

As like-minded ally Øystein Iversen, one of Tjen Folket Media’s contributors, argued:

“Studying and following the PCP and Chairman Gonzalo’s example is necessary and important for communists in all countries that wish to reconstruct communist parties today, because these must be constituted as Maoist parties.”

Any other position mildly critical puts one in the camp of the international right-opportunists as with the Norwegian blogger opinion:

“I have no desire to keep people away from studying Gonzalo. On the contrary – Gonzalo has written a lot of sense and should be studied. But not uncritical. Not everything he writes is good (see, for example, my article on “Great Leader or Collective leadership?”).”

For these comrades, although they recognize the universality of Maoism, they ignore one part of it and counterpoises the Leninist theory of insurrection without allowing for the enrichment provided by Maoism. They truncate Marxism and an essential element of the military theory supplemented by Mao.

Among the parties (including the PCMF), some organisations recognize the universality of the people’s war, others oppose it. The dissolution of some pre-party building groups like the Red Guard Austin (followed by fellow co-thinkers) raised speculation that this was done to give actuality to what was proposed as protracted people’s war as a strategy in the imperialist countries.

It is the relatively recent issue of what lessons to draw from the Peruvian revolutionary struggle that is shaping the contemporary politics and alignments within the international communist movement.

Clearly on this issue and others there is no unity. The struggle of two lines on these issues, goes through the debate in the ICM and the RIM and therefore through the whole movement including MAOIST ROAD beyond. It is part of the ideological struggle to revive and prepare for the gathering of Maoists all over the world; what is anticipated will be a leap forward in the development of the Internationalist Communist Movement and encouragement in the formation of Maoist communist parties in each country.

However convergence is unlikely to unify the different organisations as the various joint statements and declarations expressed different criteria for the construction of the ICM from the outset. The history of these declarations constitutes part of the struggle for the reunification of the communists in the world, increasingly separating on distinct political lines. There are mutual accusations of “revisionism” due to discrepancies in the content and the alleged monopoly on the only “true” and “scientific” understanding of maoism results in the quick transformation of differences into matters of principle as initiatives developed in separate ways, expressing distinct political lines in active opposition to others. Certainly the hostility directed at the exiled leader of the Philippine Party from either side of the debate does not bode well for a majority international alignment to emerge.

The Columbian s list support for the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, the fight against oppression of women, and “work on the preparation and development of People’s War taking the specific conditions of each country” [UOC (MLM): 149] among others as tasks expected of the Partyas part of the new International and directed by it.UOC (MLM): 150

Columbian view advances a scaffolding of attributes and policies to build the new internationalism, specifying:

Specific tasks for communists in the imperialist countries are

    • building the party, noting “immigrant workers…constitute the most important sector of the social base of the party in the imperialist countries”
    • Uncompromising struggle against opportunism and the labour aristocracy
    • striving for leadership of working class economic resistance, “especially and primarily the struggle of the union movement”
    • supporting anti-imperialist revolutionary struggles, even if not yet directed by MLM.
    • Whereas in the oppressed countries the broad approach is
    • new Democracy Revolution in semi-feudal oppressed countries
    • building the worker-peasant alliance
    • -work for class independence of the union movement and combat opportunism
    • practice solidarity with the struggle for socialist revolution in the imperialist countries

Another pole of attraction expressed by the Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) argued its fundamentalist position:IMG_007

“So the problem in the ICM is not principally rooted in that Maoism is not formally acknowledged, but how some understand it, and this is why it is important to start with who defined Maoism as the new, third and superior stage of our ideology; because it is only by starting from what was scientifically established by Chairman Gonzalo that we can understand Maoism as one unit, as one harmonic system. If one does not take the work of Chairman Gonzalo as a starting point, one falls into eclecticism, counterpoising quotes but not understanding the ideas.”

In mid-2018, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan published a critique to the Joint Declaration of May 1st signed by 8 Maoist parties and organizations, entitled “A Glimpse at the Joint International Statement of the Eight Latin American Maoist Parties and Organizations.

The Afghanistan organisation explicitly argued that Gonzalo thought “is continuing to play a negative historical role and was even behind the composition of a joint international statement in celebration of international workers day to promote sectarianism…”. Whilst others have generalised criticism of concepts associated with the Peruvian struggle in particular, the Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan statement emphasised that alongside MLM struggles against Avakian’s New Synthesis and Prachanda Path style revisionism–– “a struggle should also be waged against the deviation that has emerged as Gonzalo Thought.”

The Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) counters that:

“The Campaign for Maoism cannot make a great leap only with declarations, studies and debate if it does not advance in more People’s Wars in the world, in addition to further development of those that are taking place. On the other hand, no party can advance the central and principal task of reconstituting or constituting a CP to initiate the People’s War, without understanding and assuming the contributions of universal validity of Gonzalo thought, as an inseparable and indispensable part for the application of Maoism as ideological-political embodiment.” [15]

Furthermore, in order to attack Maoism, revisionism in its most varied expressions points increasingly and centrally against Gonzalo thought, in order to prevent a correct assimilation of Maoism, to empty and reduce its content, and to sterilize it. So the campaign in defence of Chairman Gonzalo and the campaign for Maoism are two strategic and inseparable campaigns, as the Maoist Communist Party (France) recently affirmed, defending Chairman Gonzalo is defending Maoism.

The most obvious demarcation line within the self-identifying Maoist movement is the analysis and evaluation of the Peruvian experience led by Abimael Guzmán, universally known throughout his party career as chairman Gonzalo. These differences impact on the conclusions drawn and lessons learnt, and are reflected in the strategic way forward.

 Within the two-line struggle the demarcations are being clearly signalled, with opposition to the position of adoption of Chairman Gonzalo’s Maoism is to oppose in fact the whole application of Maoism and People’s War and to the unification of the International Communist Movement based on these principles. This is to follow the path of what the Brazilians harshly characterise as the rightist liquidationist tendency, describing it as a more recalcitrant and pernicious form of the new revisionism.

“This opportunist and revisionist tendency is a counter current in the International Communist Movement opposed to Maoism, the unity of the ICM and the People’s War. It represents the shift to liquidationism for some of those who remained for years hidden in centrism, sunk in their ideological, political incapacity and absolute lack of initiative.“

Exclusion from the new internationalism will be an ideological choice of whether the so-called “fourth sword” is grasped and welded against any other analysis based on the concrete realty of the national arena that struggle is undertaken. In advancing its Gonzalo banner it drops the cornerstone of Mao’s success in revolutionary struggle in China, the relevance of the politics to the condition of the day.


Documents | MLM Line Struggle on new internationalism

The Debate in the international communist movement Maoist Road#1 June2011

UOC (MLM) (2016) Proposal for developing a General Line for Unity of the International Communist Movement.

Communist Party of Brazil (Red Faction) (2018) Combat Liquidationism and unite the International Communist Movement under Maoism

Ragnar V. Røed (2019) A pull towards the right Tjen Folket Media

Sison (2019) “On the Question of People’s War in Industrial Capitalist Countries”

+ Response by Ard Kinera (2019)“Defend and apply the universality of Protracted People’s War!”

Political Puritanism Collection

maosite1917 | Red Guards Austin – the end

MLM Thoughts | Gonzalo and ultra-left deviation

Kavga| A Crackle of Hens (Struggle Sessions)

Øystein Iversen | “Answer to Blog Post Against Gonzalo”

MLM Thoughts |Reply to Øystein Iversen

MLM Thoughts |Great Leader or Collective leadership?

MLM Thoughts |Reply to Rangnar V. Røed


Related posts

Albania: On the character of our epoch

America’s Maoist Mushrooms

Chinese defence of Stalin – what’s that about?

Global Maoism

Guilty to the charge of promoting revolution

MLM Line Struggle USA

Old disputes and a new internationalism

On Reading JMP

Protracted people’s war as a strategy for the imperialist countries

Reaching Out: Global Maoism

The Gonzaloists are gathering

Tirana builds an Internationale (4 instalments)

To keep our red flag flying in Peru (4 instalments)

____________________________

       ENDNOTES

[1] Gonzaloists are gathering Text Here

[2] For the variety of approaches and trends within the broad self-defined Maoist movement explore the online collection at https://emaoism.wordpress.com/

[3] See posting Protracted people’s war as a strategy for the imperialist countries

[4] Proposal for developing a General Line for Unity of the International Communist Movement. Negation of the Negation , Organo teorico de la Union Obera Comunista (MLM) No.5 August 2016 [English language edition] 2016 Communist Worker Union (mlm) Columbia General Line There is competing maoist grouping associated with the RCP, USA, the Revolutionary Communist Group of Colombia.

[5] see http://bannedthought.net/USA/MassProletariat/2019/MP-OurPresentSituationAndSomeLessons-190201.pdf

[6] Promoted by the Organization of the Workers of Afghanistan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, principally Maoist), Communist Party Marxist Leninist Maoist – Bangladesh, Communist Party Marxist Leninist Maoist – France and supported by the Marxist Leninist Maoist Centre of Belgium. See  http://lesmaterialistes.com/fichiers/pdf/revues/Theguidingthought.pdf

[7] Examples from the British movement include Bland, The Cominform Fights Revisionism https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/uk.postww2/bland-cominform.pdf , and Stalin and the Comintern, paper delivered by N. Steinmayr to The Stalin Society, London, September 2000. http://www.oneparty.co.uk/compass/intercom/stalcom.html. Other views are available.

[8] Mao Tsetung (1977) Selected Works, Volume V. Beijing: Foreign Language Press, p. 412

[9] Guidelines on International Relations of the Communist Party of the Philippines GuidelinesOnIntlRelations-CPP-1994

[10] For a criticism from Communist Party of India (M-L) Naxalbari On the Present Situation of the RIM and the Challenge of Regrouping Maoist Parties at the International Level see  2011 Maoist Road 1

[11] Draws upon the example of A Proposal Concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement . Text Here ~ http://www.bannedthought.net/China/MaoEra/GreatDebate/AProposalConcerningGeneralLineOfIntlCommunistMovement-1963-Full.pdf

The Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in Reply to the Letter of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of March 30, 1963

Documents gathered in THE POLEMIC ON THE GENERAL LINE Text Here ~ http://www.marx2mao.com/Other/PGL65.pdf

[12] Argued in their contribution to Maoist Road that “The Communists’ Unity on a World Wide Scale Is Achieved Through Ideological Struggle” Maoist Road #1

[13] Sison (2019) “On the Question of People’s War in Industrial Capitalist Countries” + Response by Ard Kinera (2019)“Defend and apply the universality of Protracted People’s War!” 2019 On the Question of People’s war in Industrial Capitalist Countries

[14] Political Puritanism Collection 2019 political-puritanism

[15] CPB (RF) 2019 2018 Combat Liquidationism and unite the International Communist Movement under Maoism and the People’s War

 

Tjen_Folket_Media

 

Shelve It – Treatment of Holocaust Denial Literature

THE RIGHT TO THINK & FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

People think the strangest things and there is often a spurious relationships between personal beliefs and the physical reality that people inhabit. We can think one thing and act otherwise – ask anyone who prides themselves as professional, part of which is the disconnect that judgements are not personal, subjectively-driven; we suspend personal-held values and judgements to do the job. This disconnect can be very creative and productive in terms of imagined work, the realm of fiction and entertainment. However in constructing a record of what has happened reliance on evidence to the nature of the event, subject to the corrective of new discovery and disclosure, remains the founding criteria for historical accuracy and understanding. Raising questions and interrogating the details of an event are all established avenues of advancing a more complete reconstruction of historical events and revising an understanding of why and what happened.

The term Holocaust Denial Literature (HDL) is a descriptive label that accurately characterises a genre of writing that raises some fundamental issues around freedom of expression, the nature of truth and enquiry in society and our presentation of history. It has ramifications for an understanding of the past, behaviour in the present and consequences for the future in making.

The preferred term “Holocaust Denial Literature” is used on the proposition that it is a misnomer to simply refer to “Holocaust revisionism” since its advocates do not seek to revise but to negate, as denial does not seek to reinterpret an event, but rather the intention is to disprove the historicity of an event that is thoroughly documented by testimonies and primary sources (including visual records) from the perpetrators, their allies and their victims. While historical records do contain inconsistencies and errors, these do not cast doubt on the culmination contingency of evidence of that event.

In questioning a perceived demonization of 20th Century Germany there are many approaches to advocate a contextual rehabilitation of its reputation, but to counterpoise that Germany acted in self-defence in WW2 against “the Jews”, that gas chambers never existed and industrial style murder did not take place but are believed because of “Zionist lies” shifts into the realm of delusional conspiracy and neo-Nazis partisanship.

HDL draws upon a relatively limited range of ideas and approaches as it doubts the scale of suffering, questions minutiae (e.g. presenting gas chamber as sites for delousing clothes not mass murder) and argues that disease not murder accounts for those who died, trying to cast doubt on the historic narrative.

Where is the written order they ask. The methodology of HDL becomes familiar with its reading: the snapshot focus, side-lining the lines of evidence converging on the reality of the Holocaust, singling out a historical document or their presented fact and stripping it of its historical context, all selects the story they want to tell. The murder of Jewish people was not a by-product, the collateral damage amidst a larger carnage, but a culmination of, even before Hitler came to power in 1933, attacks upon the Jewish people with a murderous fury and sense of vengeance. Jewish people were targeted for murder in the pits of Easter Europe as detailed in the Einsatezgruppen reports and in the work and death camps of the Final Solution.

Driven by an ideological stance HDL questions the historical legitimacy of the Holocaust in a range of material that employs techniques such as relativisation. Counterpoising other historical occurrences when others have been subject to genocidal treatment (e.g. American natives), the deniers argue that the Holocaust should not be accorded any specific attention – as in dedication day of January 27th – or specific consideration, after all, everyone suffers in war citing Hiroshima and Dresden. Somewhere in the mix a denier will employ a wrap logic that the victims should accept responsibility for their own victimisation as it rest on accepting the spurious racist premise that underlines the victimisation in the first place.

HDL draws on, and reinforces many of the myths and stereotypes attributed to Jewish people. In framing their arguments there is an intertwined objective to revise the past for present political and ideological purposes by influencing public consciousness and public opinion.

There is attempt to trivialise– the deaths “a mere footnote in the wider conflict” – or minimise the event of the Holocaust, as well as the memories and experiences of victims of the Holocaust so as to question their historical validity and relevance. So gas chambers are portray as de-lousing facilities accompanied by discussion concerning combustion rates of gases and mathematical formulae. The existence of concentration camps are acknowledge but not the mass murder in them; death explained as by disease and ill-health. Attempts to isolate and de-contextualise the entire experience by ignoring the practice of regime then assert – in the face of the policy records and the bureaucracy to enable it – there is no documentation of an official extermination order, linguistically challenging the use of Final Solution.

And this shades into allusions that the Holocaust was a complete historical fabrication, which involves not simply the details but the actual record of events as they happened. In labelling the Holocaust as a hoax it advances the belief that it was not a lived experience but a concocted narrative; that there was no attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe during World War Two.

The question is why acknowledge HDL and its arguments, even if just to refute them. It is fictitious literature posing as revisionist history. Holocaust denial is not based on evidence but is a position upheld because its adherents want it to be true. Theirs is a belief sustained by easily accessible lies that proliferate in print and on the internet.

There is abundant scholarly literature, documentation, court transcripts, witness testimonies and confessions, photographs and film, and the physicality of the institutions of mass extermination. The genocide of the Jews was a Nazi war aim, and German Jews had been subject to a degrading dehumanising onslaught from the very beginning of the Nazi party’s existence, and it culminated in the mass killing pursued domestically, and wherever they could reach throughout the demands of waging a world war.

The focus on the Jewish tragedy of the deliberate state-sponsored murder of around 5-6 million European Jews comes under the description of the Holocaust, although there was an equal number of other people who died. The detention started in Germany in 1933, the killings shortly afterwards: quarter of million physically and mentally disabled, driven by eugenic beliefs of racial purity three hundred thousand sterilized in medical experimentation, half a million Roma (Gypsies)killed, nearly two thousand Jehovah Witnesses, political opponents including communists, social democrats, dissenting clergy, homosexuals, one million and eight hundred thousand Polish and Slavic people, evangelical Lutherans, escaped British POWs, German resistance fighters and two million and three hundred thousand Russian prisoners of war.

In the dominant western intellectual tradition there is a trend that regard ideas as inviolable, that it is impossible to legalise ideas, only the expression of those ideas. So belief in something or anything exists but the expression of that belief or action consequential to those beliefs can have social sanctions applied. And this position has migrated throughout the ages to be applied regardless of the medium of expression hence action taken on the internet.

Libraries have a standard position that the service to the public, financed by the public, should support intellectual freedom, the social responsibility not to stock false information and provide access to material from all points of view, even if that involves access to unsettling ideas and distasteful views.

There is a basic commitment to the flow of all kinds of information without regard to its truth or falsehood – the texts are on the shelves so that readers can access them and make their own judgements. Librarians (in an argument appropriated by internet platforms) should not undertake the role of arbiters of truth. Professionally the librarian’s primary responsibility is access to a depositary of material. Inclusion and access to all material (legally obtainable), presenting all points of view on current and historical issues has been ingrained in library practice that accepts that American First Amendment right to free expression must be extended to those with unpopular or offensive ideas.

Libraries (financed by the public purse) as custodians and access to the fruit of human thought and communication (within a finite budget). Whilst having a professional duty not to mislead the people they serve and neither have a partisan approach, a philosophical stance (echoing post-modernist thought) is that libraries provide access:

“not to reality, but to multiple representation thereof. Truth and reality must fend for themselves.”

However this position that there are no taboo ideas is not honoured as an absolute, compromised (even where there are no legal restrictions) by “banned books” deemed unsuitable and subject to unconscious basis in the sourcing or procedures of acquisition. Those in an academic setting can argue that the proper function of education is to engrain critical thinking so the choice is with the reader.

Libraries operate in the real world of political consideration, and while burning books is associated with different regimes, in the past, local town libraries would often have a locked glass fronted cupboard, or area safely out the back away from public access, were the controversial or provocative material, explicit or disreputable books. Often a matter of historically-conditioned ‘taste’, books that contain profanity, explicit sexual passages, graphic violence, age-sensitive material have their literary value re-adjusted and moved to the main collection. An act implying a judgement on the merit of the text. So should institutions move HDL to a restricted area where one would have to ask to read them? Also consider if librarians have a professional duty not to mislead the people they serve, the exclusion of HDL – a substantial body of scholarly endeavour has established it as inaccurate, a deliberate falsehood uttered to deceive in that HDL denies the undeniable – this has greater implications than kooky flat-earth assertions. There is a question of degrees of error involved, and social consequences of acting upon those errors.

In the library HDL is shelved and given access and subject to the compromise- the tao of the mean – whereby a solution is found in classification via a subject heading for HDL that gives it a separate class number to differentiate itself from Holocaust history section. This technical approach can result in HDL material being shelved at the same location. HDL placed on the open shelves alongside other historical studies grants HDL a status as part of a body of scholarship, albeit a dissenting viewpoint. Whereas it is value is undermined when placed in the sub-category called ‘Errors and Inventions’. Where to shelve can be reduced to an occupational issue of involving the conflicting issues of intellectual freedom, collection balance and controversial materials however to include HDL in a library collection does not imply the library endorses such values and opinions, what it says is that they – in a professional capacity – make no value judgements in providing access to the ideas themselves.

Such work may be considered more appropriate for academic libraries involved in critical scholarly activity (rather than public institutions) and identified through cataloguing, classification or labelling guidance, given the trigger-warning –style treatment. Although it raise the concern of how such institutions are equipped to undertake such evaluation. For good reason there are no distinction about what to accept as truthful as such censorship through selection could make libraries gate-keepers for what society can and cannot read or think.

The guiding belief is that erroneous points of view can be challenged in open (non-censored) environment and the truth will emerge. The collar of this position being that Holocaust denial myths cannot be debunked if they are banned from the bookshelves.

The argument of last resort is that freedom to express hateful and dangerous lies may be the worst of policies – except for all the others that have been tried over time. Tolerance is given by advocates of free speech and expression as fundamental political rights, what they are not supporting is the validity of what is claimed. The uncomfortable position is that toleration is meaningless without tolerance for what some may consider morally detestable and factual empty. Thus libraries do facilitate HDL when is the right of individuals to hold and express these ideas. The consequences of the abstract principle involves supporting the right to material that lies and deceives. The consequences borne may be that the echo-chamber of self-referring publications and websites in the name of free speech benefits the lies that fester there.

The position assumes that reasonable, rational people will reject the malpractice of presenting provable lies as acceptable facts although an assumption sorely tested in distinguishing between truth and lies in contemporary political practice. To suppress expression of such ideas in HDL is regarded as the thin edge of a wedge that could aversively affect the ecology of the system of discourse. Whereas rebuttal of HDL is powerful testimony to the original crimes.

Underling the stance is an avoidance of criminalisation of dissent, a rejection of the concept of ‘thought crimes’:– in reality, libraries are full of factually questionable material i.e. horoscopes and alternative medicine, and controversial material on euthanasia and the existence of God, flat earthers, those who dispute the moon landings, accounts of alien abduction, explanations of reptilian elites and other conspiratorial histories. None of these are inconvenient truths, they may be simply wrong but intellectually we live with them. This stance avoids creating criteria to exclude others. False facts are too often accepted by many even when others have demonstrated otherwise. When confronted with deliberate fabrications of the historic record the decision in favour of intellectual freedom is the freedom to support the right to lie. There can be no guarantee that truth, justice or morality will prevail in some constructed marketplace of ideas.

In the attempt to make the Holocaust denial myth intellectually respectable, deniers mimics standard academic presentation and procedure. Questions of authenticity and authorative nature are camouflaged as conferences, journals, institutions, websites and books aim to build and construct an aura of academic respectability to HDL. The requisite notes and bibliography, the acknowledgement of archives and library collections, quoting from established authors in the field are all hallmarks of scholarly work that some authors employ in their work e.g. see the ‘Revisionist Bibliography’ compiled by Keith Stimley for the self-styled Institute of Historical Review.

Reinterpreting history is a practice that constantly occurs, but malicious falsehoods, in the guise of open debate seeking the imprimatur of credibility and free inquiry, presented as historical scholarship, remains a blatant distortion of the truth. Despite the scholarly veneer it mimics, HDL is far removed from being “the other side” of inquiry, an alternative or divergent view to reconcile with an existing orthodoxy. That respectability of intellectual enquiry sought in Thomas Dalton’s Debating the Holocaust: A New Look at both sides (2009) suggests an equal value to the revisionist argument when the book is clearly part of a revisionist propaganda wave seeking to shift historical interpretation. HDL is largely written by right-wing pro-nazi polemicists who ignore a substantial mass of evidence that runs counter to their pre-set conclusions. The collection of essay entitled, Dissecting the Holocaust: the growing critique of ‘Truth’ and ‘Memory’ gives the game away with a preface by grandfather of deniers, Robert Faurisson!

HDL tends to be published by a limited number of specialist publishers known for producing far right texts. As an idea it has no traction in mainstream commercial publishing. Whereas their critics are published by well-respected and established publishers with the occasional counter-propaganda producers (e.g. Hope Not Hate produced ‘Rewriting History: Lying, Denying & Revising the Holocaust’ (2018)).

Professor Richard Evans described Holocaust deniers as inhabitants of “an intellectual world that was far removed from the cautious rationality of academic historical scholarship”, who are motivated by “a strange mixture of prejudice and bitter personal experience”.

Their research “findings” do not go unchallenged. Recognised historians reject the so-called “scholarly works written by deniers, their use of tautological argument and selected evidence whereby contrasting documents are labelled forgeries, witnesses as liars and believers are dupes at best. Criticism of such propaganda raises awareness about the intentions and methods of deniers without legitimizing their arguments.

The demolition of the self-style pretentions of David Irving in a law court reinforced the belief that,

“As Irving’s demise revealed, it is only by analysing and deconstructing the malevolent myths informing Holocaust denial that its proponents can be rubbished and ridiculed. Spuriously-crafted claims will not be defeated by gathering dust at the back of a warehouse, but instead in the hands of a discerning mind. Publication, not restriction, is the best way to defeat abhorrent doctrines.” https://www.telegraph.co.uk/authors/jacob-furedi/

Influential in HDL was The Leuchter Report – a forensic study of the gas chambers at Auschwitz, a book answered by Shapiro who edited a demolition of its case in Truth Prevails: Demolishing Holocaust Denial: the end of The Leuchter Report (1990). Deborah Lipstadt’s book Denying the Holocaust: the growing assault on Truth and Memory (1993) directly related with Richard Evans’ Lying About Hitler: History, holocaust and the David Irving Trial (2002) and Lipstadt’s own experience in the trial against Irving in History On Trial: My Day in court with a Holocaust denier (2006).

David Irving had objected to being labelled a Holocaust denier and sued for libel, however the judge concluded it was “incontrovertible that Irving qualifies as a Holocaust denier.” Irving was later imprisoned in Austria (in 2006) for precisely doing that. In his study Hitler’s War, Irving groundlessly asserted that the mass murder of Jews had been carried out behind Hitler’s back.

IN THE INTERNET AGE

A focus on access through libraries seems quaint and old fashion, after all people are more likely to stumble across HDL readily available over the internet than in its print format. After all, commercial sites like Amazon lists self-published books promoting Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic texts ; coming across neo-Nazi literature is far more common in a digital world than when it was produced in print.

The core ideas of HDL have remained the same over the years in its transition from print literature to an internet existence. The arguments employed, and authors referenced, are drawn from, and considers of fellow self-reinforcing deniers. Their sites are not forums for inquiry and discussion into historic events: there are more exclamation marks than question marks. While not reflective of the views espoused by all Holocaust deniers, as variations exists in the degree and manner that this denial occurs, amalgamated these sites form a body of HDL that form the referring authority within the literature.

Websites provides access to multiple links giving the impression of a varied body of research work. The appeal to free speech and right to dissent is employed in such website as “The Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust”. Here intellectual freedom with respect to the Holocaust camouflages the partisan and single-sided commitment to the deniers’ narrative. Here hate propaganda is treated as a legitimate contribution. Whilst not as crude to imitate the “Holocaust LOL” sections of other sites or signal political allegiances in its url (like nazigassing), it presents in the language of inquiry and educational endeavours. Even then not all sites clearly identity themselves, hiding behind anonymity. Well-designed websites like IHR mimics the scholarly but that is no indication of authorative context when, far from being disinterested, it has the intention and purpose of promoting the denial position as much as a more personal site like zundelsile run by Ernest Zundel. The provision of free download of HDL underlines that propaganda intention. Counterpoised to this propaganda are the numerous websites knowledgably and evidence-laden about the actual history of the Holocaust.

The continued existence of discredited and disproved Holocaust Denial Literature may seem the price borne for the right to think and freedom of expression but it stands also as the reoccurring importance of intellectual enquiry and methodology that tests the sources of information, can place them with a context of a wider confirming body of knowledge and critical interrogates the arguments and conclusions it presents. On these grounds HDL fails and the memory of the Holocaust reaffirmed.

101. The Soviet View: The Evils of Maoism

The criticism of anti-Sovietism was commonly attributed to China’s analysis of the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 70s. What was less publicised in the western world was the anti-Chinese diatribe that spew forth from the propaganda machinery at the behest of Moscow. What was addressed in the multitude of pamphlets and monographs was the ideological and institutional challenge presented by the analysis from principally China, but also Albania, and the propaganda offensive to undermine such support that it might attract.

The extensive library of the “evils of Maoism” publications utilised not only Russian academics but a network of sympathetic commentators and the writings of Wang Ming to oppose Mao’s alleged nationalist deviation, all forming part of a charge sheet of a wide variety of sins, from anti-Sovietism through disruption of leftist unity to interference in internal party affairs. Describing Chinese foreign policy as one of fomenting tensions and opposing détente, not only a source of disorientation and splitting of revolutionary forces, but a “factual ally of imperialism” (as described in the Czech party publication Rude Pravo in November 21st 1975). An argument opportunistically illustrated with Mao shaking hands with German politician Franz Joseph Strauss. Throughout the Seventies there was a wide and varied cast of conservative and right-wing visitors to China given a public welcome in Beijing from whom to select.

In framing the issues as a problem of China’s making, there is the attempt to side-step the criticisms raised and focus on the polemical assertions thereby characteristically describes Maoism sinocentric character, and as by Leningrad Propagandist VADIM VASILYEVICH CHUBINSKIY, an ‘expert on Chinese affairs’, habitually attacking Maoism as a non-Marxist ideology:

“A form of peasantism which is connected with Chinese nationalism and chauvinism, an old tradition in China which Maoism took over. In the final analysis, Maoist theories come down to Great Power chauvinism. Soviet scientists have determined that there is no substance to Maoism as an ideology.”

A staple explanation that the Cultural Revolution could be reduced to a single motive in that the “present power struggle between the various factions and groups has its essence in conflicts which Maoism has had since the very beginning.” However the party and state in China were more complex a phenomena than that presented in the propaganda: Chubinskiy argued in his lecture of April 18th 1976 that,

“There are two main groups: the one led by Mao’s wife, CHIANG CHING, together with the Shanghai leadership, which is the more adventurist, extreme grouping – Maoism in its pure form; the less extreme group of so-called pragmatists and realists, drawn from the military and party apparatus, formerly led by CHOU-ENLAI and then TENG HSIAO-PENG. However, it should be emphasised that both groups are identical in their hostility to Marxism-Leninism. It is just a question of the “tempo” of Maoism.”

“MAOISM UNMASKED” by L. KYUZADZHYAN, published in Izvesitya on October 15 1975, a lengthy commentary exposing the ideological dangers and propaganda difficulties posed by Maoism for “true socialism”.

He contended that “with the rise and development of Maoism bourgeois ideologies acquired what in their view is a priceless means of discrediting Marxism-Leninism in the eyes of unsophisticated people.” Not only that, wrote KYUZADZHYAN, but bourgeois propaganda plays on Maoism’s national tendencies to “urge on opportunist elements in Communist parties to make their own political deals.” He quoted from BREZHNEV’S 1971 24th Party Congress address, naming ROGER GARAUDY, ERNST FISCHER and the “Manifest Group” in Italy. KYUZADZHYAN opinion was that “a complex alliance of forces, from openly anti-communist to all kinds of revisionists, is being formed in which under the present ‘division of labour’ Maoism supplies the ‘theoretical’ argument against true socialism.”

KYUZADZHYAN pointed out to three other dangers said to be inherent in Maoism: referencing ISAAC DEUTSCHER for a supporting opinion, he claimed that “the arguments of Maoist theorists had much in common with those of Trotsky”; using FISCHER and GARAUDY as examples, he argued that Maoism spreads the idea “that there can be various models of socialism, with nationalist tendencies as the determining factor; and referring to American China watcher Michael Oksenberg, he argues Maoism is advocated as a developmental philosophy for the third world, although KYUZADZHYAN contends that Maoism’s subjugation of national interest to the interests of a “narrow group” distorts or even breaks off the development process.

Criticism of Chinese policies were an oblique warning to the other Moscow-orientated parties to curb such tendencies in its “client parties”, those opportunists who believed that the spectrum of socialism would incorporate Chinese communism and reach to embrace the social democracy of Western Europe and Venezuela. The anti-revisionist stance challenged the monopoly of Moscow wary of the perceived perils of encouraging Communist parties to explore independent or national approaches, thereby (as what happened) weakening the ability to guide them in their political stance. What ideally the ideologues of the CPSU wanted to establish was not so much that the enemy is within the walls of the socialist community, but rather that Maoism was outside the camp. In the early 1970s the Soviet leadership moved to a position that could not regard the Chinese leaders as Marxist-Leninists and various adjectives were used to establish them “petit bourgeois in nature”.

Polish commentator Stanislaw Glabinski had raised the thesis that Maoism was a self-serving native Chinese philosophy with roots in Chinese feudal traditions, relating to Buddhism and Taoism, rather than a Chinese form of Marxism” as discussed in Western scholarship. [Perspektywy, a Polish weekly, August 3rd 1973]

After this explanation of the non-Marxist nature of Maoism, he concludes that Maoist ideology in practice is directed against “our interests, against the interests of the Socialist community.” There was, in light of China’s relations with East Europe, a concerted Soviet effort to frustrate any notion of Chinese ‘wedge-driving’ in the geo-political alliance in Eastern Europe.

The Soviet Party theoretical journal, set out clearly the anti-Maoist line it sought to set a consensus around with which other parties could endorse at a future world communist conference. [Kommunist #12 August1975]

The article sustains an anti-China diatribe, stating Mao’s policies “discredit the ideas of socialism” portraying a power-hungry leadership devoted to militarism and repression, plagued by factionalism and scornful of its own people’s aspirations for a better life, instead through its mass criticism campaigns, such as to criticise Lin Piao and Confucius, sought “to build up the cult of violence and brutality in the country.”

Soviet commentators would cite a litany of grievances of supposed crimes and misdeeds undertaken by the Chinese authorities, somewhere near the top was Chinese ingratitude for the aid received from Russia before and since the revolution; Beijing’s anti-Soviet, anti-socialist, national-chauvinist policies, and how repeated Soviet efforts to normalise relations with the People’s Republic had founded on Chinese intransigence raising the question of “lost territories”.

In terms of damaging Soviet interests, China was seen as its active opponent to the Soviet foreign policy emphasis on détente. In doing so, “the Maoist leadership is preventing the establishment of a lasting peace in the world and is supporting the reactionary forces that want a resumption of the Cold War. The authorities in Beijing were said to be seeking to form an “anti-socialist, anti-Soviet alliance with all of the most rabid reactionary forces of the capitalist world.”

In an inflammatory paragraph, KOMMUNIST’s article emphasised the wider aspect that CPSU ideologues were attempting to establish as the benchmark for alignment amongst its allies and others. It argued,

“The dangerous and adventurist nature of the Maoist leadership’s policy lends special urgency to the Chinese problem. Maoism is a policy and an ideology has ceased to be merely a domestic problem of China, but also concerns the world socialist system and the international communist movement, turning into a factor which concerns all peace-loving states, irrespective of their social systems, and progressive forces, because it represents a growing threat to everyone. Maoism has now joined forces with anti-communism and comes out against détente, being actually an apologist for a new world war. The Chinese problem is increasingly become one of the most acute political issues of today.”

BREZHNEV’S 25th party congress speech in 1976 had alleged that the Chinese authorities sought to “warm its hands” over the flames of a world war. This thread was further untwisted in an article in the Soviet army newspaper KRASNAYA ZVEZDA (from May 1976) by YU. LUGOVSKOY which denounces Maoism as a threat to world peace.

The Soviet evidence was China supposed alliance with world reaction, its anti-Soviet propaganda (which never matched in quantity that which came out of the Soviet Union) and the belief that it was China’s interest to sit on the mountain and watch the (paper) tigers fight.

Dismissing the Chinese concept of “three worlds”- it has no “class basis” said Kommunist, lumping socialists with imperialists, and ignoring the support which socialism has given to developing countries- China’s efforts to identify with the Third World against “Superpower hegemony” were said to cover its real aim of expanding its own hegemony, especially along its southern flank indicating a threat to Vietnam and others.

In public they repeated what was spoken in private as Russian hostility towards China was publicised arguing that “Maoist policy increasingly coincided with the views of the world’s extreme reactionaries” and that “The Maoists’ aim was to use the wreckage of human civilization as a pedestal from which China could dominate the world” –

[‘Moscow criticizes West for appeasing Maoism’ The Times May 5 1976 p6]

Internal counsel from Moscow loyalists echoed the message: “We consider it necessary that our parties and countries make use of all the political and ideological means available to them for the fight against the current serious danger ‐ the creation of an “united front“ between Beijing and imperialism and the reaction ‐ and to mobilize for actions against the plot of the Chinese leadership with reactionary American forces. And we hope that the fraternal parties and the socialist countries will commit their potentials to this purpose.”

“Evaluation by the Soviet party CC of the normalization of US‐Chinese relations”. 30 August 1978 Confidential! [handwritten notes:] “Circulation Politburo, EH [Erich Honecker] 31.08.‘78 “filed. 10.10.‘78“Cold War International History Project . http://wwics.si.edu/index.cfm?topic_id=1409&fuseaction=library.document&id=63653 A

To push the point home to its unenthusiastic allies, the Kommunist article baldly stated that patient forbearance is not sufficient,

“Those who come out against the exposure of the harm done by Maoism, against criticism of the fundamental errors of the Peking leaders, against joint strategy and tactics in the struggle for the unity and cohesion of the socialist system and the international communist movement, those who try to present Maoism as some specifically Chinese ‘national model of socialism’, render help to Peking’s schimatics, whether they wish it or not.”

“A conciliatory attitude towards Maoism and Mao Tse-tung’s policies, whatever the form their manifestation takes, objectively promote the anti-Marxist, anti-socialist aims of the Chinese leadership…. Struggle against Maoism is a struggle for greater unity of the socialist countries and for the triumph of the cause of peace and security of peoples.”

So the lofty and noble aims of the anti-China article concludes with the standard prediction that “the Chinese people themselves will turn over a new leaf” and eventually rid themselves of the errors of Maoism.


 

RESOURCES OF SOVIET ANTI-MAOIST PROGAGANDA


✭ Source https://thesovietbroadcast.tumblr.com/thesovietlibrary-sovietpolemics